Social Media and Security


Does social media use put you at risk of becoming a victim of burglary? It could, if you aren’t careful what you’re sharing online. We want to share this valuable information about social media safety with you.

Many of us remember our parents’ warning growing up: “Don’t put a note on the front door to tell me where you went. That’s like advertising to the whole neighborhood that no one’s home.” With social media, you’re putting a “note on the door” that everyone in your network can see; if your page isn’t secure, then you’re putting it out there for anyone to see.

Nearly 80% of ex-burglars polled in 2011 said that they believe that today’s burglars use Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr and other social media sites to find properties they can rob. They look for the status updates of users in their area who are broadcasting vacation plans; what else do they need?

Nothing really, except that some people make the mistake of providing even more information: dates, times, names of the neighbors who will be feeding the pets (in the form of tagging them in an online thank you note or some other communication). It’s hard to believe for those of us who know better, but some people will post everything short of their alarm codes on social media. All of that information can help a burglar decide what the best date and time to break into your house is, and you may never be the wiser until you hear from your alarm company that a break-in attempt occurred.

So, the next time you’re preparing to tweet or Facebook your vacation plans (yes, that includes Facebook and Foursquare “check-ins”), think twice. You may be inviting a criminal in, without knowing it until it’s too late.

One news item out of one Southern California city sheds light on the importance of securing and maintaining all alarm permits required by your municipality. In this case, a business owner was told by police that officers did not respond to his alarm signal as his business was being burglarized for one simple reason: he had failed to renew his annual alarm permits with the city.

News reports cite the “no permit, no response” policy that the city enforces for private security systems, enacted since November 2003. If alarm owners fail to pay the annual permit fee, they will receive no response from law enforcement for a triggered alarm. In a situation where the building is occupied, the results of this could be quite dangerous – even tragic.

While it may be tempting to blame law enforcement first when these events take place, that is not necessarily always the correct response. Municipalities have alarm permit requirements in place for a reason, and this unfortunate story underscores the importance of keeping up on yours every single year.

If your city has an alarm permit schedule, it is imperative that you paid for your last permit, so that you can renew on time every year. It’s easy to forget something you did a year ago, so try:

  • Marking the date down in a calendar or organizer
  • Programming your mobile device to send you a notification when it is due
  • Asking if the city will send you a reminder in the mail when it is time to renew

By doing these things, you can ensure your alarm signal will receive a response from law enforcement when you need it – hopefully, before it is too late.