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OPINION: How Instagram is helping burglars break into your home

Four celebrity burglary victims targeted by a gang that used social media to plan their break-ins. From left to right: Rihanna, Christina Milian, Yasiel Puig, and Robert Woods. (AP File Photos)

OPINION

A story out of L.A. this week has got me afraid to post anything on Instagram anymore. On Friday, four burglars were arrested for breaking into celebrity homes, and they used social media to do it.

Here’s how it works.

These thieves would check celebrity social media accounts to figure out who was on vacation, on tour, or playing a big game out of town. If your Instagram said you weren’t home, they’d gently rap on your door to make sure no one was there. And then they’d smash in your windows, grab everything that wasn’t bolted down, and make a break for it before the cops showed up.

They got away with some huge hauls doing this. In one break-in, singer Alanis Morissette lost about $2 million in jewelry and valuables, and in another, NBA player Nick Young lost about $500,000.

And all because they just had to put those vacation beach pictures on Instagram.

To burglars, Instagram can be an open invitation

Los Angeles Police show some of the items recovered after the arrests of four people police say targeted celebrity homes for burglary at a news conference in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018. (Los Angeles Police Department via AP)

I get that this is a terrible thing that happened, but I can’t help feeling a little bit happy about this news. Because this is a great, big, juicy opportunity for me to say: “I told you so!”

Not everything you do needs to go on social media, people!

I have been doing stories about this on and off on KSL 5 TV for years, and I really couldn’t help feeling a little bit vindicated when this story came out. Because this is proof that – 100% — this kind of thing happens.

When you take photos on vacation, do not post them on Instagram until you get home!

You never know who is looking at your social media account. In this case, the burglars were actually breaking into houses with one of their moms! Police say that 34-year-old Ashle Hall was accompanying her 18-year-old son as he smashed into people’s homes and stole their valuables.

More common than you think

Two of the four suspects in the string of celebrity robberies. (LAPD / CNN)

These burglars hit celebrities. They broke into the homes of Rihanna, Christina Milian, the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig, and the Rams’ Robert Woods – but you don’t have to be a celebrity to fall for a scam like this one.

78 percent of burglars have used social media to decide which homes to break into, according to a survey of ex-cons done in the UK.

It’s hard to read a statistic like that and not feel a little bit vulnerable. Burglars, just like everyone else, are catching up with the times, and with the modern world come whole new ways to get away with robbery.

I don’t want everyone to live in fear – but it doesn’t hurt to take a few basic precautions. In about 53 percent of the burglaries in Utah last year, the burglars didn’t even have to break in. All they had to do was turn the knob on the door and it swung open.

Locking your door before you go on vacation is one of those little things that just keep you safer. And we ought to start seeing Instagram the same way.

To the wrong person, your Instagram vacation pictures just might look like an open invitation.

More to the story

My co-host Dave Noriega and I talked about this on KSL Newsradio’s Dave & Dujanovic show. If you missed it, you can still hear everything we had to say on our podcast:

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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