How to Avoid Cyber-Burglars This Holiday Season

One survey says over 78 percent of burglars use social media to find targets

December 23, 2014, 11:52 AM

— -- Before the age of computers and smartphones, a would-be burglar would have to look in your window to see that you are gone on a holiday vacation.

These days, all a would-be-burglar has to do is check social media to see if you are away -- a 21st century reality Laverne Cheatham learned the hard way.

The Fontana, Calif., woman’s home was burglarized last March by three men who police caught inside her home, according to ABC station KABC.

The suspects, who were later arrested, allegedly learned that Cheatham and her family would be gone because her daughter posted updates of the family’s Las Vegas vacation on her Facebook account.

“You think posting wherever you go is fine and you’re actually letting people know, ‘Hey I’m gone. Go over there and take what you want,’” Cheatham said at the time.

Cyber security expert Kimberly Pease says that our habit of “checking in constantly” on our smartphones and other devices is leaving us exposed.

“We are telling everyone else where we are and what we are doing and the fact that we are not home, we’re out somewhere else,” Pease told ABC News.

Pease recommends checking your privacy and location settings on your smartphone and adjusting them accordingly.

Experts also recommend not checking in on Facebook from airports and hotels and waiting until after your vacation to post photos on social media.

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