We know social media has come in handy sometimes in terms of our personal safety, but did you know in some cases sites like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare can also put you and your home at risk for theft and intrusions?
A simple status update about your upcoming vacation or a check-in at a restaurant allows your home to be vulnerable to criminal activities because burglars are actually using these tools to follow through with perfectly-timed robberies.
In fact, in 2011 UK home security company Friedland surveyed 50 ex-burglars and 78 percent believed social media, particularly Google Street View was being used by current thieves to target homes. And most recently in May 2012, bandits broke into a 17-year-old Australian girl’s mother house after seeing her post a photo of herself on Facebook counting a large sum of money.
So, what you may think is a fun and harmless photo can actually end up costing you. The staff over at Protect Your Home came up with a few good tips on how to guard yourself, including: de-friending people you don’t know well enough, avoid posting travel plans and disabling your location information on your phones.
Click through our slideshow to see other ways to protect yourself from burglaries and head over to Protect Your Home for more helpful tips.
Don't Announce Vacations On Social Media
As tempting as it is to brag about your week-long trip to the Bahamas to all of your friends and followers, it can also make your home a target for burglars. <a href="http://articles.businessinsider.com/2010-09-10/tech/30040121_1_facebook-users-new-hampshire-bust">There have been instances</a> where robbers actually used Facebook to determine when homeowners were away, allowing them to plot the perfect times to burglarize their homes.
Get To Know Your Neighbors
Knowing your neighbors (and trusting them) will ensure that there's always an extra set of eyes on your house. When you're away, ask them to bring your newspaper in so it looks like someone is home collecting it. They can also look out for any suspicious activity and notify the police if there does seem to be any fishy activity while you're gone.
Get A Dog (Or At Least Pretend To)
Even if your dog would never hurt a fly, having one that will at least bark at an intruder might deter him or her from entering your home. Don't want a dog? Put up a "beware of dog" sign anyway. Just the threat of Fido might be enough to intimidate and make a burglar think twice.
Don't Leave Packaging For Expensive Purchases On The Curb
Throwing out the box for your new flat-screen TV on the curb lets everyone passing by know that you have a brand new flat-screen TV mounted on your wall. Don't tempt burglars with your pricey possessions--break down packaging and place it inside the garbage can instead of displaying it out in the open.
Use Landscaping To Your Advantage
Prune back shrubbery to eliminate potential hideouts for thieves. If there is nowhere for them to lurk, you'll make it harder for them to hang around waiting for you to leave. Plus, overgrown foliage gives burglars a way to conceal themselves as they escape. Running across an empty, open yard is much less appealing.
Install Sensor Lighting
Motion-sensored lights outside your home are a great deterrent for burglars. They'll definitely be a little put off when they suddenly are standing in bright lights as they approach your house, completely visible to you and anyone who passes by.
Don't leave your valuables out in the open where they can easily be spotted. Keep your fine jewelry and other expensive items in a safe or a drawer where they are hidden. Don't leave money or anything else that yells "steal me!" sitting out or in plain view from the street.
Install An Alarm System (Or Do Some More Pretending)
Alarm systems can be expensive, so if you don't want to spend the extra money on one, you can employ something similar to the dog method. Put an alarm system sign in the front of your home so that burglars think you have one. A home that could potentially have an alarm system is much less appealing for a potential thief than one that won't immediately summon the police.
Set Timers For Lights
By setting your lights on a timer, you can create the illusion that someone is home and actively turning the lights on and off. When you're on vacation, set the timer so that your lights turn on a few times throughout the day.
Install Window Treatments
Use blinds or curtains, especially at night. If burglars can see inside your home, they can see what you're doing, where you're storing your wallet, and which room you're sitting in to watch TV. Window treatments will help keep your life (and valuables) even more private.