SECURITY experts have warned social media users in Gloucester to guard against burglars as savvy criminals take to the internet to monitor people’s homes.
Police in Gloucestershire issued a list of guidelines at the launch of anti-crime campaign Operation Switch. On that list, users of Facebook and Twitter were advised against posting details about time away from home, or of valuable gifts they may receive at Christmas.
Alarm company ADT has warned that more than half of 16 to 21-year-olds put their location or movements online at least once a week.
Senior police officers have said risky status updates include ‘checking in’, posting photos when on a family holiday, or sharing photos of expensive gadgets and other purchases.
Another poll by security firm Friedland found more than three in four former burglars said Google Street View was used to stake out homes before a break-in.
Chris Jackson, from Gloucestershire Police, said: “We don’t want to frighten anyone but just be aware of the information you are posting on social media. It isn’t advisable to let people know you are away from home or on holiday as burglars could use that as a reason to target your property.”
Although they’re not directly linked to social media postings, police in Gloucester are investigating a spate of five burglaries.
Houses in Welveland Lane and Welveland Road in Barnwood, Green Lane in Hucclecote and Matson Avenue were targeted. Another property in Cooks Orchard was broken into overnight a few hours later. Each took place over 24 hours from Wednesday.
In Green Lane a resident saw two young people trying to break in to their house. The offenders are described as aged in their late teens, white, about 5ft 8ins tall and wearing grey joggers. A third youth was seen, probably acting as a lookout, at the front of the house. Electrical equipment including televisions and computers were taken.
Sergeant Jon Testar said: “Operation Switch, aimed at raising awareness of home security as the nights get darker earlier, has been a great success, with the number of break-ins falling dramatically. I would urge people to check their security in the wake of these incidents, though, and look at our website for crime reduction advice.”
Meanwhile, a 35-year-old man has appeared at Gloucester crown court accused of burglaries of a school and a children’s centre in the city. Richard Stokes, of no fixed address, is alleged to have burgled St James Primary School in Tredworth, the Finlay Childrens Centre and The Courtyard in London Road.
Judge William Hart remanded him in custody pending a plea and case management hearing on March 7.