Is There Any Actual Proof A House Was Robbed Due To A Facebook Status Update?

from the somewhere?--anywhere? dept

Back in September, we noted our skepticism of some police and press reports about burglars using Facebook to pick their targets. It makes for a good story, but it just seems like an incredibly inefficient way to go about things -- and even with certain Facebook status updates, you have no idea if that means everyone in the house is gone. It just seems a hell of a lot easier to use other methods. Yet, because it's online and police and the press love to jump to conclusions, we've now got another similar report -- this time by the BBC, involving police in the UK warning people that Facebook updates are a burglary risk. The evidence for this? A woman whose house was robbed thinks it's because her kids posted a Facebook update about how they were going to be out getting a dog that day. Actual evidence to support that? None. Did they catch the burglar and find out it was a Facebook friend? Nope. Did they even review the Facebook friends? Doesn't sound like it. So why does everyone jump to these conclusions?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2010 @ 7:59am

    Foursquare is just as bad

    After I became mayor of the local Denny's, my car exploded.

     

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  2.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Dec 28th, 2010 @ 7:59am

    Why jump to the conclusions?

    BECAUSE THINK OF THE KIDS!!! THE KIDS!!!1!1

    Sad when the 'shining example' America was supposed to set for the world moves from 'freedom and democracy' to 'idiocy and over reactive sensationalism'. If I keep having to drown my national identity in alcohol on a weekly basis, I might as well just stay in the bottle. :/

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Jason, Dec 28th, 2010 @ 8:00am

    ooo...

    oooh, SHINY!!

     

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  4.  
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    PaulT (profile), Dec 28th, 2010 @ 8:00am

    "Proof"? Probably not. Another excuse for a few years of scaremongering tabloid articles to be believed by groups of morons before the next scapegoat comes along? Absolutely,

     

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  5.  
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    Tony, Dec 28th, 2010 @ 8:03am

    I don't know about Facebook status being a risk. I mean you should "know" most/all of your friends? Right? Maybe some of them at least?

    But twitter, is even worse because it is public. Anyone can see your tweets. Than with people and their damn 4square updates.

    In all honestly, I dont know if anyone has actually been robbed. However, I personally don't publicly tell the world where I live and when I am not home. It just seems like a bad idea.

     

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  6.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Dec 28th, 2010 @ 8:06am

    Y3K

    So, there's this really good documentary film from the future (from after we'd surpassed the 'stupid ages') called "Idiocracy"

    If you'd like to know the future, watch that film.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2010 @ 8:19am

    Re:

    you can protect your updates in Twitter and in turn not show up in the public timeline.

    all social network sites have private options.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous, Dec 28th, 2010 @ 8:19am

    You want proof?

    I can verify that the answer to all your questions in your blog post is "yes." What more proof does anyone need than an anonymous blog comment?

     

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  9.  
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    Jeffry Houser (profile), Dec 28th, 2010 @ 8:24am

    One Sample

    Everytime you post a story like this I'm reminded of this story:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/03/25/earlyshow/main6331796.shtml

    Although I can't find an update that positively links FB to the theft.

     

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  10.  
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    Skyhawker, Dec 28th, 2010 @ 8:28am

    Re: Y3K

    Brilliant movie.

     

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  11.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Dec 28th, 2010 @ 8:29am

    Re: Y3K

    The first time I watched that movie it scared the crap out of me. I know it was just suppose to be funny, but I was horrified.

    My roommate says that it's not a prophetic movie but a view of the present in a Walmart (he worked there for over a year).

     

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  12.  
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    Michael, Dec 28th, 2010 @ 8:42am

    Not usually random

    Over 90% of burglaries on a residence are committed by someone who has been in the house before. Usually a "friend" or someone who has done work inside the house. Its far more likely they know the person who did it, than it being some random person from facebook.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2010 @ 8:44am

    Here is the "old fashioned version":

    http://www.snopes.com/crime/intent/adthief.asp

    Anyone with an open Facebook profile could be at risk.

    Anyone who uses something like foursquare or tweets their locations on a regular basis could be at risk. Anyone who posts up images from an Iphone with the GPS information encoded (or uses a service that reveals that info) is at risk.

    Big risk? Who knows. Risk. That is all.

     

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  14.  
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    chris (profile), Dec 28th, 2010 @ 9:12am

    Re: Foursquare is just as bad

    and you deserved it. for your wife's sake i hope you think twice about challenging my mayorship at starbucks.

     

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  15.  
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    Michael, Dec 28th, 2010 @ 9:13am

    Re: Re:

    "all social network sites have private options."

    Bold statement. Have you researched EVERY social network site on the internet? I'm curious how long that took.

     

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  16.  
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    chris (profile), Dec 28th, 2010 @ 9:14am

    Re: Re:

    you can protect your updates in Twitter and in turn not show up in the public timeline.

    all social network sites have private options.


    yeah, but that involves changing the settings from their defaults.

    it's hard you know, clicking. and thinking.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2010 @ 9:15am

    I believe the most prominent case is from these 3 burglars in the New Hampshire area: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/12/burglars-picked-houses-based-on-facebook-updates/

     

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  18.  
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    Michael, Dec 28th, 2010 @ 9:23am

    Re:

    That's the point. You have given a proven example of the method that works. Why are the police spouting out about criminals using Facebook to do this without any actual evidence that it has happened?

    Do you remember the same thing happening with answering machines when they first came out? Don't say "we're not home" on your message! People will come and rob your house! Say "we are not available"!

    There are better ways for criminals to research when someone will be home that does not put them on a list of potential suspects. Think about it - you have to friend someone on Facebook, find out where they live (assuming you don't already actually know them), watch for them to indicate that they and their entire family will be out, and then go rob their house as soon as you see it happen.

    A well-prepared burglar can ransack a house for everything worth taking in less than 10 minutes. They don't care where you have gone. They are not waiting for you to go on vacation so they can take their time.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2010 @ 9:34am

    rehashing urban legends

    I recall a warning not to tell the post office to hold your mail because that tipped off thieves to your extended abscence. Ask a neighbor to change your facebook status instead.

     

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  20.  
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    Berenerd (profile), Dec 28th, 2010 @ 9:59am

    Re: ooo...

    Squirrel!!!!

     

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  21.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Dec 28th, 2010 @ 11:05am

    Facts! Who cares!

    Since when do facts matter when there is FUD to spread?

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2010 @ 11:25am

    Okay, but the person not being home is just one part. What about neighbors or pets? Yeah, I found out someone is gone this afternoon but that won't help me too much if the folks next door eyeball me. You have to watch the joint to see the people and area.

    Sounds like a bad A-Team pitch meeting, the Facebook gang.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2010 @ 11:36am

    Re: Re:

    Knowing that you are gone for a long time, or that you are currently at work far from home, adds to the potential to be a victim.

    Plenty of people post up images of their spendy bike, the expensive home computer, their sexy new home theater, and so on. All of these things make you a great target for potential theives, and thanks to GPS tagging, your facebook information, your blog, and all those other things, people can figure out where you live and pretty much waltz right in. Your profile says you are single, you are on a business trip to another city for 24 hours, and so on.

    Other people have cited examples in this thread. I was only citing an example of the old low tech way that this was done. Announcing that you are away is just making it easier for people to know when to come visit.

     

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  24.  
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    Peet McKimmie (profile), Dec 28th, 2010 @ 12:14pm

    One thing that may be skewing the figures...

    If someone *admits* they were burgled because of a Facebook update their insurance is unlikely to pay out.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2010 @ 12:59pm

    Re: Re: Y3K

    maybe there's a link...MAYBE there something in the air at Walmart that infects people with "stupid" and they over a period of time we get what is actually prophecy in Idiocracy

     

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  26.  
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    nasch (profile), Dec 29th, 2010 @ 7:33am

    Re: One thing that may be skewing the figures...

    Did your insurance agent tell you that, or are you just guessing?

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2010 @ 9:05am

    Re: Re: Re:

    It's also hard for said Social Network to actually keep that data "private." Once it's online, eventually, it'll get public. Don't ever assume that what FB and Twitter say is private will always be private.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2010 @ 3:42am

    A high percentage of murder victims know their attackers. Same goes for burglaries, especially violent burglaries, 65% are known to their attackers. You know Facebook is one of the first places police go for leads.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    George Mair, Jan 20th, 2011 @ 6:18am

    Re: One thing that may be skewing the figures...

    Peet, how are you? Long time no see, give me a shout if you happen to get this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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