Status alert: Facebook ‘invites’ burglars

POSTING on Facebook that you’re away may become an invitation to burglars.

Wangaratta detectives issued that warning yesterday after thieves made off with a $6000 haul from residents who were on holiday.

Detective Sen-Constable Mark Hussey said thieves smashed a side window to break into a home in Garnet Avenue, Wangaratta, and took jewellery valued at $6000, women’s clothing, make-up and perfume.

Sen-Constable Hussey said a member of the family had posted on their Facebook page that they were away.

He said the break-in occurred between 2pm on Wednesday and 5pm on Monday.

Detectives are investigating whether the burglary and the Facebook post are linked and Sen-Constable Hussey has warned people against posting such comments on any social networking site.

“You don’t know who has access to your profile,” he said.

“People need to be more careful and think of their home security before they tell the world something like that.”

Sen-Constable Hussey said some of the jewellery included gold chains, a pearl necklace, a gold-coloured bracelet and a diamond ring. 

An engraved jewellery box was also taken.

The prevalence of burglars using Facebook to target Australian homes arose in a recent study by Perth’s Edith Cowan University and the Australian Institute of Criminology where researchers interviewed criminals.

“While it is exciting to update your status on Facebook, it is also an advertisement that your house may be empty,” lead researcher Natalie Gately said.

“If you do, it’s important to ensure privacy functions are on,” she said.

“We need to listen to what the burglars are telling us so that we can change and improve the ways we protect our homes and belongings.”

The study showed that burglars also looked for other signs a home was empty including full letter boxes, uncollected newspapers on the lawn and rubbish bins left on the kerb. 

Leaving lights on late at night was considered a poor attempt at making the house look occupied.

The burglars told the researchers that the top deterrent against theft was a dog, with 53 per cent of offenders saying this would prevent them from breaking into a home.

“Getting a dog may not be practical for everyone,” Dr Gately said.

“We should use our commonsense in remembering to lock doors and windows, close blinds and use your house alarm.”

Anyone with information about the Wangaratta burglary should phone Wangaratta police on (03) 5823 0888 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.