Gardaí warn Irish people out enjoying the sun that social media updates could help criminals find their empty houses
Life & Style

Gardaí warn Irish people out enjoying the sun that social media updates could help criminals find their empty houses

IRISH people basking in the country's unprecedented heatwave have been warned that careless use of social media could help criminals identify vacant houses.

Social media users enjoying a day out at the beach or on holiday could inadvertently advertise their empty properties to burglars via their mobile phones, Gardaí said.

Issuing an official warning to sun-worshippers today, a Garda spokesman said: "If you are going on holiday and your home is going to be vacant, be mindful of what you post on social media.

"Even if you have enabled strict privacy settings, your holiday plans could be shared with unscrupulous people.

"Gardaí are advising people not to post status updates about your holidays while you're still away."

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The force added that tagging people in online posts could significantly increase the risk of criminals identifying vacant properties.

They have also urged people not to speak openly about upcoming travel plans and to turn off location-tracking on their mobile camera apps.

"Ask a trusted neighbour or family member to conduct frequent checks of the property at different times of the day to note any signs of trespassing or interference."

Below is their advice in full:

Home Security

1. Whether at home or going out, turn on some lights, use timer switches

2. Lock all doors and windows, almost 1 in 4 Summer time burglaries involve entry through an unsecured access point

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3. Use your house alarm

4. Store keys safely; away from windows and letterboxes

5. Record details of valuables and don’t keep large cash amounts at home

Vacant Houses

If your home is going to be vacant during the summer period:

1. Ask a trusted neighbour or family member to conduct frequent checks of the property at different times of the day to note any signs of trespassing or interference

2. Ensure the house alarm is set

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3. Check all doors and windows are secure. (Use deadbolt locks if property is to be vacant for long periods)

4. Install timers on internal lights and motion detectors on external lights to make the house appear occupied and offer natural surveillance of the property

5. Ensure that the building doesn't look neglected. Cut the grass, trim hedges etc.

6. Ask a neighbour to collect post or if you are going to be away for longer periods arrange a ‘mail minder’ service with An Post to retain post for collection and place a ‘No Junk Mail’ sign on letter-box

7. Inform the local Garda station about the premises being vacant to afford passing attention on patrols

Social Media

If you are going on holiday and your home is going to be vacant, be mindful of what you post on social media. Even if you have enabled strict privacy settings, your holiday plans could be shared with unscrupulous people:

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1. Don't post status updates about your holidays while you're still on vacation

2. Don't post pictures while you're away

3. Respect other people’s privacy, don't tag others while you and they are still on vacation

4. Avoid posting upcoming travel plans

5. Consider turning off the location sharing setting of your phone's camera app

Garden/Landscaping

1. Don’t help the burglar; safely store away ladders, tools etc

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2. Use quality locks on Garden sheds, chain valuable property, tools, bikes, etc within

3. Property mark and photograph valuable possessions

4. Tidy up gardens and shrubbery, this improves visibility and creates the illusion of an occupied home

5. Consider defensive planting, e.g. thorny plants around the perimeter, for extra security.