Anna Leask

Anna Leask is a police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

T'is the season to be wary online

Police warn of dangers of updating social media status to show you are out of town

Bruglars could be using social media to determine which houses to break in. Photo / Thinkstock
Bruglars could be using social media to determine which houses to break in. Photo / Thinkstock

Want a burglary-free Christmas? Then watch what you post on your social media profile.

Police are appealing for everyone to think smart over the festive season and take simple steps to ensure they don't come home to find their homes ransacked and presents pinched.

And this year they have gone above and beyond the normal security tips, and are warning people not to give away too much information on the internet - which thieves could be keeping an eye on in a bid to find homes with the best spoils.

"As well as the standard tips to keep yourself and your property safe, police would like to remind people to be careful what details and information they put on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media channels that may advertise that they are away from their property and for how long," said national manager prevention, Superintendent Bruce Bird.

"Social media is a popular way to communicate with friends and family about your holiday, but it can also alert others to your absence from your house. Refrain from publishing travel details and other personal information. Instead put up a post thanking your neighbours for watching your property."

Mr Bird said those going away over Christmas could reduce the risk of having their home broken into by being a "good communicator".

"The most important prevention measure homeowners can take is to let their neighbours know when they are going away.

"It is also a great idea to swap holiday addresses and let each other know if you are expecting visitors or tradespeople while you are away."

Police said discarding Christmas present boxes in places visible to thieves was "tantamount to putting a sign on your door saying: 'Look what I got for Christmas, come and burgle me'."

'With all the excitement and distraction of Christmas and summer, it can be easy to forget the simple things that will help keep you and your home safe," Mr Bird said. "So simple things like keeping the wrapped gifts hidden from view before Christmas and taking the boxes to the recycling depot after Christmas could be all it takes to prevent you from having an intruder in your home.

"We want everyone to have a safe and peaceful holiday so just take some time to protect yourself, others and your home and spend the rest of the time enjoying the festivities."

Go here for the Herald's full coverage of social media issues.

- NZ Herald

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