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World's dumbest burglar blunders on social media

The tendency with social media is to alert everyone as to exactly what you’re doing at every moment of every day. This is great – unless, of course, you’re trying to rob a house.

Dubbed the ‘world’s dumbest burglar’, earlier this year a Minnesotan man logged into his Facebook whilst looting a house and forgot to log out. When homeowner James Wood returned to his house, he found the place totally upturned; perhaps most disturbing however was that his PC was showing someone else’s Facebook page with unrecognised photos. Wood posted publicly on the suspect’s Facebook wall with an account of what had happened and his phone number, urging people to get in touch. When later returning from a friend’s house, Wood recognised a man walking down the street as the same face he’d seen in the photograph; burglar Nicholas Wig was subsequently identified and arrested as a result of his social media blunder.

This is not the first time a crime has been committed, and fortunately solved, using social media. An 18 year old intruder in Georgia and two armed criminals who robbed an internet café in Columbia were all later picked up, having forgotten to log out of social networking sites. Recently, NYC police have adapted to these changing criminal techniques by befriending petty criminals on Facebook.

According to a UK study, approximately 78 percent of ex-burglars used Twitter, Foursquare and Facebook to identify properties with absent homeowners. Back in the US in 2010, Keri McMullen of Kentucky had posted that she was heading out to see a local band play in town – sure enough, her house was targeted that evening. The next day, Keri posted news of the break-in on Facebook and uploaded video stills of the burglars. Within minutes, she got a message from somebody who recognised one of the suspects as a man Ms McMullen had accepted as a Facebook friend six months before.

There’s been a rise of break-ins linked to the use of social mediasocial networking sites show what you have and where you are. Privacy is difficult online with GPS location services built into phones and Facebook check ins making one’s whereabouts immediately visible. Would-be criminals no longer have to sit outside houses scouting out targets but can watch comings and goings on Facebook and Twitter.

social media burglar
Source: aceonlineschools.com
Unsurprisingly, posts like ‘SO EXCITED FOR MY WEEK IN SPAIN, BRING ON THE SANGRIA!’ tend to get more responses than other statuses, which in turn means they appear on more homepages and are seen by more prying eyes. The average Facebook user has around 130 friends, which means roughly 16,900 friends of friends. Facebook’s scrolling updates (the incessant information reel in the top right hand corner of the homepage) may be great fun for our voyeuristic side, allowing us to see friends talking about people we don’t know – it also means that the very same strangers can see what’s being said about you.

In a bizarre imitation of real life, Sofia Coppola’s recent Hollywood hit The Bling Ring, highlights the disappearance of privacy in the wake of Google, Facebook and Twitter, depicting the now infamous events that took place in LA’s wealthy ‘celebrity district’ in which high profile stars were robbed by a group of precocious youngsters who used social media sites like Twitter to figure out when their victims were out of town, leaving their homes unmanned.

social media burglar
Source: pitchfork.com
Hollywood A-listers Orlando Bloom, Megan Fox and Lindsay Lohan were amongst those targeted, and in total the teenage gang is believed to have bagged more than $3m worth of loot, mainly jewellery.

Paris Hilton says social media made it easy for her to become a victim of the Bling Ring. The socialite was among a host of stars targeted by the gang of celebrity-obsessed teen burglars and she accepts her constant updates on her life on Twitter and Facebook made her a soft target.

In an appearance on CNN's 'Piers Morgan Live', she said: 'This could not have happened five, 10 years ago. There wasn't Twitter or Facebook or any of these things, so nowadays people know exactly where you are'.

It’s been said before and it’ll be said again, but in the public world of social media it’s worth keeping a few things private.

Recent graduate and now interning as content editor, when she's not writing articles Katie can quite likely be found festival-ing, holiday-ing or reading a book (dedicated English student that she is). Follow her @KatieAtSMF.

Contact us on Twitter, on Facebook, or leave your comments below. To find out about social media training or management why not take a look at our website for more info http://socialmediacambridge.co.uk/.
Log In, Log Out Reviewed by Anonymous on Thursday, July 03, 2014 Rating: 5
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