Facebook Burglary Ring—Geo-Location Means More Crime

 Crime in America.Net

Reporter Erik Sass in Media Post Blogs (see provides the following information:



“…police in the town of Nashua, New Hampshire have busted a three-man burglary ring which stole at least $100,000 worth — and perhaps twice that amount — of cash, consumer electronics, jewelry and other valuables (not to mention ammunition and fireworks) in more than 50 break-ins targeting the homes of people who shared their whereabouts on location-based online networks, including Facebook’s new location-based service, “Places.”

Sass reports “the Association of British Insurers warned that home insurance premiums may rise up to 10% this year, due in part to an increase in home invasions resulting from people revealing their whereabouts on social networks.”

“Perhaps the most frightening possible abuse of location-based social networks is stalking, especially cases targeting women. Going back to the Webroot survey, women were more likely to express concern about the potential threat posed by geolocation services, with 49% saying they’re very worried about a stalker using their information, compared to 32% of men.”

Our Analysis:

We have been warning readers that geo-location devices and users of the internet in general will be subject to increasing interest from criminal offenders who see internet users as easy pickings. From sex offenders targeting minors to burglars looking for an easy score, the internet is making it easier than ever to safely commit fraud and other crimes.

This is what we said in an earlier post in May reacting to the podcast “Buzz Out Loud,” “No Buzz Crew, it’s not an anti-technology rant. It’s just a warning that our privacy is something we need to protect. This post means little now but it’s going to take on greater meaning when these incidents unfold.”(emphasis added).

Research makes it clear that burglars want to avoid someone inside of the house and will go to some lengths (watching the house, knocking on the door). With that in mind, what could be easier than an internet listing of all those not home?

At what point does web use become an open invitation to commit crimes? Offenders have told us in the past that “if people are so stupid as to invite their own victimization, they get what they deserve” (our interpretation-not their exact words).

If your daughter tells all “friends” on her social network about her personal life and makes herself vulnerable does it attract the wrong kind of interest? Yes, it does and there are thousands of sex offenders looking for her story.

If a woman tells all that she is at home and drinking away her worries, does that send an invitation to, predators? Yes, it does.

The bottom-line is that there are predators who find the internet a target rich environment and that it’s inevitable that they are drawn to the opportunities presented.

Police and parole and probation officers are now training for these examples and more. Offenders simply find it easier and safer to conduct business from a keyboard. To think otherwise is foolishness in the extreme.

The post below is an earlier entry in Crime in America.Net

“Are You Kidding Me?” Does Geo-Location Mean More Crime?

March 12, 2010

Crime news by Crime in America.Net

To the loyal listeners of the “Buzz Out Loud” daily technology podcast, location devices are a frequent topic. “I know where you are” rants the reincarnation of Katharine Hepburn as channeled by Molly Wood, one of the interesting and frighteningly knowledgeable cast.

Their discussion on show 1182 (http://www.cnet.com/buzz-out-loud-podcast/) focused on Facebook and Twitter and a wide array of location based services that “allows” one to let everyone in their social circle know where they are.

“Are You Kidding Me?”  Molly shouts when a friend tells her that a new service was unknowingly tracking her location.

Problem is, many internet users may be technologically aware but possess the common sense of a Golden Retriever. We have endless numbers of users who send messages to their friends and foolishly think that the message (or revealing photos) is “only” going to their friends.

And we all know that we choose our “friends” wisely when sharing information on the internet, right?

The internet is a vast message board where it’s easy to repost anything you have to offer and the regrets are many. Your trip to Cancun and photo at 21 with the tequila bottle and the semi-undressed partner with what seems to be a joint inevitably finds its way to the person interviewing you for a teaching job at 25.

The existing and emerging geo-location devices and services are fine when you go downtown and you want friends to know where you are, but if you forget to turn them off they follow you wherever you are.

 “Damn I’m buzzed and I’m going home” may be the geo-located message you want to send to your sister, but it’s not the geo-located message you want to send to the world.

Something to consider—the world is filled with people who would love to know where you are and the fact that you’re buzzed.

There is an emerging consensus that sex offenders and others prone to violence have taken to the internet in a very serious way. The prior posts on this site “Please Rob Me” and the Loss of Privacy” and “Is Technology Leading to 3.4 Million People Being Stalked?” (links below) both suggest that increased access to internet based location devices are going to get a lot of people hurt and worse.

There’s nothing we can do regarding new technology and everything from the Model T to rocket packs are going to cause someone unanticipated trouble, but there’s something insidious about geo-location.

We spent the lifetime of this country resisting unwarranted intrusion by government and business only to share our privacy with everyone on the internet. It’s acceptable yet ridiculously dangerous if adults choose to share their locations with Jack the Ripper, but we’re afraid that millions of younger individuals are going to find themselves in situations that they can’t handle.

No Buzz Crew, it’s not an anti-technology rant. It’s just a warning that our privacy is something we need to protect. This post means little now but it’s going to take on greater meaning when these incidents unfold.

Every service offering geo-location NEEDS to set the default to “off” and every service NEEDS to make the “on” setting a two-stage process.  A warning that engaging the geo-location service carries risks should be part of the activation process.

Love the show.

Crime in America.Net staff.





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