Postings on Facebook, Twitter may allow burglars to target you while away

By Gene Petriello -


RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - With Labor Day weekend quickly approaching, a dark home may not be the only way burglars are finding their next hit. A new study shows some criminals are watching you on social web sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Posting your travel plans in your status updates or conversations may seem like a good idea. But a new study says, it's also becoming a good way to let burglars know you won't be home and making you an easy target.

A quick scroll online and you can easily find out what your friends... and even strangers are doing.

"It saves people from texting me and looking for me," says Jessica Dougherty.

"For people to know if they want to hang out also," says Lisa Kosaya.

"Every once in a while I'll tell people I'm going to the beach, but I won't say what beach," says Mulayo Makwarela.

But things could be changing. A new study of more than 2,000 social media users, found that 38% of people on sites like Facebook and Twitter post details of their holiday plans. The study goes on to say that 33% of people update their weekend getaway plans.

The key -- this information is being used by professional burglars to establish a list of potential targets.

"I never thought of it like that. I guess if someone is trying to come to your house, they can wait and see what you say. I guess I'm not going to do that now," says Mulayo.

Richmond Police Department says no one reported being a victim of crime because of social web site yet, but that doesn't mean it hasn't happened.

"Criminals adapt. Most are not stupid and they use the tools that are available," says Lt. Hamlet Hood.

Check out what we found today leading up to Labor Day weekend. One facebook update: "4 days of work and then beach bound for 4 days."

Another saying -- "going to the Giants game tonight." Then, on Twitter, we found this: "off to the Nations Capitol."

"There are some people out there that will take advantage of your trust," says Lt. Hood. "Make you a victim and you contributed to it."

"Now it's a concern! Starting right now," adds Mulayo.

Some people are already taking the steps to protect themselves.

"I got all the controls on there that no one can see my profile without knowing me or see my pictures," says Jessica.

The best advice this holiday weekend -- protect yourself by making your information private and if you wouldn't tell a stranger, don't put it online.

(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed