Put out too much on Facebook and risk burglary

Thursday, September 16, 2010

LONDON - People who post too much personal information on social networking sites could be at risk from burglary, a media report said Thursday.

Wisbech magistrates’ court heard that Peter Trower, 22, and Joseph McLennan, 18, monitored Facebook accounts waiting for the “perfect opportunity” to rob a home in the town, Daily Telegraph reported on its website.

Trower, it transpired, knew the victims’ daughter and had been to the three-bedroom house twice before. When he fell out with the family, he hatched a plan for “revenge” and, being a friend of theirs on Facebook, had access to their status updates.

When the family posted they were going away, the pair ransacked the property and stole computers, jewellery, DVDs and a purse. They were caught red-handed after being spotted by a neighbour. Both admitted to burglary and will be sentenced later.

Inspector Ian Tandy, from Cambridgeshire police, said the case highlighted the dangers of putting too much personal information online.

He said: “I would urge the public to be cautious when using social media, ensuring you know who has access to your personal information and take full advantage of the privacy settings available.”

Police in the US state of New Hampshire said Wednesday they had smashed a burglary ring which targeted users who imparted their location on their status or used a new Facebook application called Facebook Places, a mobile phone-based service giving away users’ locations, and therefore effectively advertising the fact they are not at home.

The gang broke into 50 homes, stealing around 60,000 pounds worth of goods.

Gareth Kloet, head of home insurance at the Cardiff-based comparison site Confused.com, said: “What’s happened in the US could be the start of a worrying trend and if insurance providers see it as a potential risk, you can bet your home contents on the fact they’ll start pricing for it.

“Something like ‘places’ on Facebook broadcasts people’s locations on a platform which has 500 million users - you don’t need to be an insurance provider to see the risk that poses. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see rises of up to 10 percent for social media users in the future.”

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