BURGLARS are using Facebook and Twitter to find victims, according to a new survey.
A massive 78 per cent of former thieves interviewed by home security experts Friedlands said they believed social media sites are being used to target properties.
Calderdale Police are advising people to protect themselves by being cautious about the details they reveal online.
PC Keith Williams, crime prevention Officer for Calderdale, said: “We would urge people to be very careful about the sort of information and the amount of detail they publicise on social networking websites and who they allow access to this information.
“The internet gives people the means to communicate quickly and easily with a global audience but that also includes criminals who can be local to you and looking to piece together information, such as your home address and when you’re next away, which they can then use to commit offences like burglary.”
He urged anyone going on holiday to always use lights on timer switches, cancel any deliveries and tell neighbours to keep an eye on your property.
“We would advise people not to give out personal information on the internet that could mean they return from holiday to find their home has been broken into and their valuables taken,” he said.
The survey also showed that the average house burglary takes just over 10 minutes to commit and nets thieves an average of £487-worth of property.
Four out of five of the ex-burglars asked said when they see homes are fitted with alarm systems, they are put off targeting a property.
And the top five most common mistakes homeowners make, according to the former thieves, are windows being left open, valuables left in view of people passing by, whereabouts being listed on social networking sites, keys being hidden by doorways and delivered parcels being left on the doorstep.
Jonathan Lim, from Friedland, said: “The findings have broken down some of the illusions commonly associated with burglaries; with four out of five revealing burglary was not opportunistic, instead returning to a property a number of times before breaking in. We know that by taking simple measures, including cutting back trees and shrubs to remove potential hiding places and installing simple alarm systems are all good, cost-effective deterrents that all homeowners can implement to remove their home from the target list.”