AAA: Thieves Use Social Media to Target Empty Homes

According to AAA, one of the biggest mistakes travelers make today is advertising their travel plans and whereabouts on social media sites, alerting potential thieves that you

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July 22, 2014

Nothing is more exciting than packing and getting ready for that much needed summer vacation to “get away from it all.” Unfortunately, some vacationers will return home to find “it all” no longer there when they return home.

According to AAA, one of the biggest mistakes travelers make today is advertising their travel plans and whereabouts on social media sites.

Broadcasting your location information and posting photos while on vacation is like handing the key to your house to potential thieves. AAA warns travelers to be vigilant and secure their property before leaving on vacation and to only share details of their trip after returning home.

Every 14.6 seconds, someone becomes a victim of burglary in the U.S., according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Over half of those break-ins occurred at a time when no one was home and nearly half of said violations happened in the daytime hours when homeowners were either at work or enjoying other leisurely activities, such as a vacation.

Travelers that post details of their itineraries and travel plans on social media sites often think that only their social media “friends” will be able to see their activity. According to the creators of PleaseRobMe.com, a website that uses Twitter’s search functionality to show location-based messages, people expose themselves to vulnerability by over-sharing their whereabouts.

“We started the site when we noticed that quite a few of our friends were posting Foursquare check-ins to Twitter. Sometimes we saw people sharing their home address or that of their friends and relatives. By publishing these check-ins on Twitter, these messages became public. With PleaseRobMe.com we wanted to make sure people are aware of how easy it is to get this information and what you can do to prevent oversharing,” advised Boy van Amstel of PleaseRobMe.com.

Trust everyone in your “friends” list? So did the Cheatheam family. Earlier this year, Lavern Cheatheam and her family decided to take a trip to Las Vegas and document the details of their travel online via social media. They were so caught up in the excitement of sharing their news, that one of her daughter’s online “friends” began immediately sending text messages to find out if they were in Vegas, how long they would be there and the exact day they would return home. As luck would have it, a U-Haul truck pulled up to their home while they were away with perpetrators emptying the contents of their home. Fortunately, the Cheatheam family was able to recover their lost items as the police just happened to be patrolling the neighborhood for recent thefts.

AAA advises to not only safeguard social media practices while away from home but also to plan how you will protect your property while away. Homeowners can take action before leaving town to reduce the likelihood of a home invasion.


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