You wouldn't put a Steal My Stuff! sign on your front door, but you may be sending criminals a similar message by saying too much on Facebook or Twitter. Follow our rules and you'll lower the odds of being the victim of a break-in and read this article before you go on Facebook again!
Keri McMullen was stoked. It was a Saturday in late March, and that morning, the 33-year-old had completed a 10K race. To celebrate, she and her fiancé, Kurt, and four of their friends were going to see the Fire Department Band, a local group, play at the Phoenix Hill Tavern in Louisville, Kentucky, about 10 minutes from the house Keri and Kurt were leasing.Plus: 10 Signs You Should Unfriend Someone on Facebook
Just before 6 p.m., Keri logged on to Facebook and posted a typical status update: "Heading to the Hill with Kurt...to see Fire Department." About two-and-a-half hours later, the couple was having a great time listening to music at the bar. Meanwhile, two men wearing hooded sweatshirts were burglarizing their house.
When the concert ended at midnight, Keri met up with girlfriends at another club to continue partying, and Kurt, who had to work the following morning, headed home.Related: The Hidden Danger of Breakups
He first saw the empty space where the plasma TV had been. Then he noticed their laptops were missing from the kitchen table. He checked a surveillance video (the homeowner was trying to sell the place, and Kurt had installed a camera to keep tabs on potential buyers) and confirmed what his gut had already told him. All told, the burglars had stolen $10,000 worth of valuables, including Keri's grandmother's wedding ring.
The next day, Keri posted news of the break-in on Facebook and uploaded video stills of the burglars. Within minutes, she got a message from somebody who recognized one of the suspects as a guy who had Facebook friended Keri six months before. (She wanted to confront him, but police told her that could jeopardize the case.) According to police, one suspect had lived across the street from Keri's family when she was growing up, but she hadn't seen him in about 15 years. (At press time, no arrests had been made.) Like all of Keri's nearly 600 Facebook friends, the alleged suspect had access to her profile page…and her status updates. In other words, she had basically told him that her house would be empty all night.
You've been warned countless times about the dangers of disclosing sensitive information like your Social Security number when you're online. But you may not realize how dangerous it is to share random details of your life, like what your plans are for the night, where you're going on vacation, or how psyched you are about your new computer. That's because those bits of information are like candy to criminals.
Find out how you can protect yourself and read the rest of this article here.
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.