track your address down in one minute
Constant holiday updates on social networking sites
are a handy way of letting your friends know what
you are up to.
But there may be others who have a more sinister
interest in your online posts.
Facebook and Twitter users are increasing the risk
of being burgled when they announce their holiday
plans online, a study has warned.
Opportunist thieves are able to track down an
address from a website posting within 60 seconds.
Researchers looked at messages such as ‘packing my
cases’ to another which said ‘just landed’ with a
smiley face only hours after their location was
given as ‘Manchester Airport.’
A quick check on their family name and, for
instance, the name of their child’s school,
cross-referenced with online address databases soon
revealed the exact location of their home.
And as they are on holiday, there is a high chance
the home is empty, said the authors of the study
conducted jointly by Co-operative Travel and
Children are often the worst offenders, with 51 per
cent of youngsters updating their status when they
are about to go on holiday.
And the growth of wi-fi and internet connections
abroad mean they are also telling everyone where
they are while away.
Almost half of ten to 15-year-olds (45 per cent) own
smartphones which enable them to update their
location, status and other details on a much more
The survey of 3,000 Britons found that 44 per cent
have Facebook friends or Twitter followers that they
have never met.
And 37 per cent have no privacy settings in place so
anyone can look at their accounts - including
Trevor Davis, Director of Retail Distribution for
The Co-operative Travel, said it was no longer
enough to simply double lock the front door and stop
milk being delivered.
He said: ‘The traditional precautions people take to
protect their homes whilst they’re on holiday are
being undermined by the growth in social media.
‘This is particularly true for families with teenage
children, who perhaps aren’t as aware of the need to
avoid telling strangers that your house will be
‘This year’s holidaymakers are likely to be
particularly vulnerable, due to the growing
availability of wi-fi connections in hotels and
‘This is allowing people to keep updating their
accounts while abroad and inevitably raises the
awareness that the user is away from home.’
Co-op researchers went online to look at social
media sites, including Facebook and Foursquare, to
see how easy it is to trace an address for someone
The quickest discovery took just one minute.
The posting said ‘heading home to pack my case cause
me going on holiday for few days’.
Using the person’s surname and hometown, the
researchers found just two addresses in that town
for that surname.
Another message said ‘is it wrong to be going on
holiday on Friday and wishing you weren’t’.
It took just two minutes to track the person after
finding the name of their school in an earlier
posting and matching their surname to an address
near the school.
Another search took just three minutes. The status
update said ‘has landed’ with a smiley face. A few
hours later their location had been tagged as
A local town was mentioned and there were four
addresses in that town relating to the poster’s
surname but only one which also matched his name and
– [Daily Mail]