What Vacationers Should Know About Social Media & Thieves (VIDEO)

By Jeff Neumeyer

December 23, 2013 Updated Dec 23, 2013 at 6:29 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21ALIVE) --- Out-of-town vacations around the holidays are a great way to get some “fun in the sun”, but if you broadcast your travels on social media, understand professional thieves may be the ones celebrating at your expense.

It’s a story that illustrates the need to exercise restraint.

There is a big temptation to use Twitter and Facebook to show everybody what a blast you're having while taking a trip, but unfortunately, your friends and family aren't the only ones keeping track.

It's estimated 78 percent of burglars now use social media to choose their next break-in location.

If you do a search of “#Vacation”, you’ll see a long list of people advertising their vacation travels to the world.

IPFW Professor John Kaufeld is an expert on the workings of Facebook and Twitter.

He says when you post vacation photos, it is like a billboard telling everyone that your home is an easy target.

There are privacy settings on Facebook to cover your tracks, but if you post on Twitter, virtually anybody can see it.

The phrase, “Good things come to those who wait”, applies to smart travelers.

“ They don't even say, bye, I'm off. They just kind of disappear for a little while, and then a couple weeks later, they come back, post a great big listing of photos, make a nice big photo gallery. You know, that's a much safer way to do it," said Kaufeld, who is a specialist in online marketing issues.

Other advice on how to protect yourself includes making sure you haven’t filled in the name of your city on your Twitter profile.

If you do, your account is searchable.

Also, pay attention to your Smart Phone account.

It could be set up for GPS to reveal your location when you take and send pictures.

Location-identifying settings of any kind can be an open invitation for crooks to come and rip you off.

It used to be that crooks had to physically stakeout your place, now they can do the same thing from the comfort of their laptop computer.

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