FoursquareWhile the internet is great for helping you keep in touch with the people you care about, it’s also a good way for strangers to find out everything about you. One thing people seem to ignore nowadays is the privacy settings on their social networks – where they are, where they live, where they hang out – all their location data is visible for everyone to see.

Most of the time it doesn’t mean a thing, but if you happen to be the unfortunate target of a burglar, it becomes a problem. Friedland, a UK home security company recently performed a survey on 50 ex-burglars and found some interesting results. 78% of those burglars surveyed answered that they strongly believed social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare are being used by current thieves when targeting properties. 74% of them started in their expert opinion that Google Street View was playing a role in today’s home thefts.

According to the ex-thieves, the average break-in takes just over ten minutes to commit, with only two minutes to break into a household with no visible security. Imagine if these burglars knew you were out of town for the weekend and were under no pressure – they could have your house cleaned out in no time.

Some other interesting findings were revealed in the study as well. Apparently, the presence of a simple alarm system, the cutting back of trees and shrubs to remove potential hiding places are big enough deterrents for most thieves. And some of the most common mistakes that homeowners make in the eyes of the ex-burglars are: leaving the windows open, leaving valuables in easy view, and hiding keys by doorways. Keeping your whereabouts updated on your social network is just icing on the cake if you make it visible to the public.

So while it isn’t bad or wrong to use such services, just make sure you have your privacy settings figured out, or don’t turn on geotagging/location data just to be safe. You can never be too careful in today’s technologically-advanced society.

[Friedland study] [Image credit]

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