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Social media and home security: Don't advertise your absence

Tweeting about your holiday antics could be just the green light that a burglar needs to break into your homei. In a survey undertaken by British security firm Friedland, 80% of 50 interviewed ex-criminals believe that burglars today are using popular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to monitor when homeowners are out of towni. Now the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) is warning holiday makers to keep their travel plans off social networking sites to reduce the risk of burglaryii.

While many fans of social media feel comfortable sharing their every move with friends and colleagues, there are serious privacy concerns about what information we give out over the Internet and who has access to it. A simple status update or check-in could alert someone you don't know that the content in your house is available for the takingii. Even posting holiday photos online before the end of your trip could let thieves know you are away. Equally worrying is that users of Facebook Places and Foursquare may not always be aware of when their location is being revealediii.

To reduce the risk of home burglary while you're on holiday, avoid advertising your travel plans on social networking sites. (Source: Insurance Council of Australia, Media Release, 2011, Insurers alert holidaymakers to dangers of social media, p.1)

Going out? Lock up!

It is important to make sure your home is secure when walking out the door, even if you're just popping to the shops. According to the interviews conducted by Friedland, the average home burglary takes just ten minutes to commit and four out of every five criminals break and enter homes only after they have surveyed the property multiple timesi. There are a few things you can keep in mind when you're social networking:

  • If you are going away on holiday, avoid revealing that you are leaving your home unattended for an extended period of timeii.
  • Never make public your address on your profile or in your photosiii.
  • Adjust your privacy settings so that your activity and profile can only be seen by your friendsiii.
  • Only add people you know as Friends or Followersiii.
  • Avoid posting your every movement online. Using applications such as 'Places' on Facebook is effectively advertising your absence from homeii.

The Friedland survey of 50 ex-burglars gave interesting and useful insights into how homes are selected as targets for theft. Of those surveyed, 78% would not break into a house that had a visible security alarm installed. Houses are targeted if they have valuables on display and if windows or doors are often left openi. Tell-tale signs that the owners are out of town are unkempt gardens and overflowing mailboxes, so arrange for the garden to be tidied before you take off and ask trusted neighbours if they would mind making the home appear lived-in by emptying the letterbox or putting out the bins while you are awayi.

Social Media can assist criminals in planning burglaries. Take out home insurance to secure your investment.

A few things to keep in mind

Criminals are using social media to assist in burglaries and advertising your absence online can make your home an easy targetii. You can minimise your risk of burglary by being mindful of what information you give out on the Internet and who is viewing your activity. Make sure that you have home and contents insurance and know what that covers in the event of a burglary while you are away. Talk to Allianz today to get a quote for insurance for your home.

i Friedland UK, 2011, What's your status?, 26 September 2011 accessed from,

ii Insurance Council of Australia, Media Release, 2011, Insurers alert holidaymakers to dangers of social media,, p.1

iii Tomlinson, S., 2011, How's your social security? Burglars monitor Facebook and Twitter to see when you're away from home, Daily Mail UK, 1 November 2011, accessed from,

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