Social Media: A Burglar’s Best Friend?
Over 750,000 Brits reveal their holiday plans in social media posts over the course of 30 days – playing directly into the hands of would-be burglar’s and putting your home at risk.
Media Measurement recently carried out research for Together Mutual Insurance into Brits’ sharing of holiday travel on social media and its potential impact.
Using a range of social media tools and manual social data mining, we quickly discovered that posting publicly from airports about upcoming holidays away from home is common behaviour within the UK, despite the risks this carries for home security. The results gained significant coverage within the national and international press, with broadcast and online interviews set up as well.
Amongst the results uncovered, we found that, in a set 30 day period:
- Over 750,000 public social media posts volunteered their absence from home by sharing their holiday travel
- Spain was by far the most mentioned destination, accounting for 1/5 of destination mentions – along with the length of their trip
- Over 760,000 people ‘checked in’ on Facebook at UK airport locations, with Heathrow having the most check-ins but being proportionally most prevalent among passengers flying from Glasgow Prestwick and Newcastle
- 68,000 Instagram posts were tagged with a UK airport location – Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester generated the most photos
- Group photos were more popular than single person photos, increasing the likelihood of individuals being tagged in photos, giving away information about their absence from home
- Boarding passes also appeared in 5% of photos and passports in 8% of photos
- In total, there were over 1,500,000 public social media posts containing information about Brits’ holidays, airport check-ins or their absence from home
It is clear that Brits are oversharing their holiday details on social media without realising the risks associated with giving away vital information to potential burglars.
Instagram was predominately used to document pre-holiday excitement, with almost 68,000 Instagram posts tagged with a UK airport location – Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester generating the most photos. Amongst the photos commonly shared from UK airports, people were the subject of most of them followed by runways & planes, and alcohol. Surprisingly, however Brits were also found sharing photos of their important documents, like passports (8 percent) and boarding passes (5 percent).
Posting a holiday selfie with your location services turned on or sharing travel plans on social media could, however, put you an increased risk of burglary.
Just last month month Hilary Duff’s home was burgled whilst she was away on holiday in Canada, and John Terry was also robbed back in February whilst away skiing with his family. It’s entirely probable that in both cases, posts on social media alerted burglars to the fact that the owners were out of the country.
Home Security experts, Friesland, carried out their own report interviewing 50 ex-burglars that revealed nearly 78% of the burglars used Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare to pick out potential places to rob. Three quarters of the surveyed ex-burglars also used Google Street View to get a feel for the property.
The findings were quickly picked up by a significant number of national and international portals, including The Metro, Yahoo Canada, The Daily Star and The Sun.
Most of the articles informed the public about the statistics Media Measurement analysts uncovered and informed them of the dangers lurking behind posting that cheeky airport beer on Instagram. A few of the media outlets (such as The Express) picked up the news and put it in context by interviewing ex con-artist and burglar Michael Fraser.
Off the back of the research, Together Mutual Insurance have secured broadcast interviews across 6 BBCs, including BBC Radio Oxford, Tees and Nottingham and interviews with The Sun online, Prima, Yahoo! Lifestyle, Metro, MSN and Express. They’ve also published some of the key results on their website.
More and more PR agencies are turning to social media data for survey results and insights due to the wealth of data available. Find out how this approach can help your clients today – contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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