Internet makes holiday crime easy

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Hitting enter on social networking sites can give burglars a reason to enter your home this holiday season.
Tupelo Police Chief Tony Carleton and Baldwyn Chief Don Rowan said people are giving away too much personal information in Facebook statuses, which could make them a target for holiday crime. Carleton said he cringed when he read a status that read, “Heading to Nashville with the family for the holidays.” And another that read, “All the gifts wrapped and tucked under the tree,” and it had the home location tagged on it.
Even though his department has not had any proof that area burglaries were products of Facebook information, Carleton said the idea is not that far-fetched.
“The Internet has been a tool criminals have used for years so I don’t think it’s impossible that Facebook is being used to target people,” said Carleton. “You have people telling where they are, how long they will be there, what they bought and where they hid it. And they are broadcasting all of this on a public site. So I think it is more than possible they can be making themselves and their property targets.”
Tupelo police have been busy all year with burglaries and now that the holiday season is here, Carleton said that hasn’t changed.
“Burglars know people have gifts in their homes,” he said. “They know people are out shopping and they know people travel during the holidays.”
Rowan also is against the public broadcasting that goes on with sites like Facebook.
“People are just inviting people over with some of the stuff they put up,” said Rowan. “I don’t think social networking is a good thing sometimes. People give way too much of themselves away. I see people who post pictures of everything in their homes. That’s just not a smart thing to do, especially this time of year.”
Carleton said how you dispose of your Christmas morning trash can make you a target for burglaries as well. He said you should never place the empty boxes that had expensive gifts in them on the curb for the garbage truck to pick up.
“Don’t put your 50-inch television box outside because if someone sees the box they know it’s in the house and can come back to get it,” said Carleton. “Crush things like that up and put them in a black garbage bag. Simple steps like this can protect your goods.”
danza.johnson@journalinc.com