Posting your vacation information on Facebook?

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Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780
Posting your vacation information on Facebook?

http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2011/10/28/bucks-county-family-burglarized-after-leaving-details-about-vacation-facebook/#comments

NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS) – Police in Bucks County allege a man used a friend’s posting on Facebook about going on vacation as an opportunity to steal valuables from the victim’s home.

When a Facebook friend indicated that he was on vacation, Newtown Township Police say Steve Piecznyski, 36, stole jewelry, coins and 120 DVD’s from a home on Robin Road in Wrightstown Township in late September.

Investigators say a neighbor of the victims wrote down a license plate of a suspicious car in the neighborhood and that car was later traced to Piecznyski.

According to investigators, they later realized that Piecznyski and the victim were friends on Facebook. Piecznyski was arrested on October 20th.

Piecznyski’s lawyer maintains his client’s innocence.

“Steve is innocent. He’s a hard-working family man. He’s very upset about this allegation, in particular because he is innocent,” lawyer Andrew Schneider said.

Following his arrest, Piecznyski is out on $2,500 bail.

Police say they have recovered some of the stolen items.

PICK-A-SIDE

I was surprised to read how many commenters on the article seemed to blame the victim. (click link to read comments). Thoughts?

Is it "idiotic" to post when you are on vacation on FB?

Joined: 01/06/03
Posts: 1175

"Potter75" wrote:

Is it "idiotic" to post when you are on vacation on FB?

If you have a public profile, I'd say it's not the wisest of choices, yes.

If you have it locked down/set to "friends only" and actually know the people you have as friends (ie they're not just random Joe Bloe's you picked up while playing Farmville or something), then I think most people wouldn't think twice about posting they were on vacation. Most people tend to trust their friends or they wouldn't be friends in the first place, no? I know I wouldn't "friend" anybody I didn't know/trust anyway.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

That's just stupid. Telling "friends" you're going on vacation is no different than posting "back to the Monday grind" or going to see a movie. People know when you are going to be gone.

A co-worker was recently out of the country. I could easily get his address (through legal means) but that doesn't I can go steal his stuff.

Several of my friends have been burgalized within a week of moving in to a new place. Should they have moved in during the middle of the night so neighbors couldn't seize an opportunity to break the law?

Joined: 12/10/05
Posts: 1681

If you've got a public profile and 813 friends, then it probably isn't wise to post stuff like that.

However, if your profile is only viewed by friends and you only "friend" people who you know reasonably well, then I don't think it is any more risk than telling people (coworkers or whatever) that you are going away.

Personally though, I'm really cautious with fb. I don't post that I'm going somewhere. If I want to say something about it, I'll say it once I'm back.

Joined: 01/18/06
Posts: 1626

That's awful that it happened. But yeah, can't blame the victim. Even if he left his windows and doors open. The criminals are still the criminals, not the person who was criminalized.

I liked this comment on the link "Wow… these comments… I wonder how the comments would read if the headline went something like this: “Husband Cheats on Wife After She Tells Him She’ll Be Home Late”"

lol

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

I wouldnt 'blame the victim' as I dont think they really did anything wrong by posting, and unless they left the door open with a big 'rob me' sign they did not invite someone to rob them. It is all on the criminal.

But that said, I dont post when I am away, and I think it is a bad idea to do so. Social media is a playground for criminals. They just arrested a serial rapist/killer near us. He found all his victims on facebook. My husband is RCMP and they see this sort of thing all the time. People are often not 'friends' with all the people they are 'friends' with on facebook, not to mention the new feature on facebook where I can see my friends, friends, statuses if my friend commented on them.

I love my facebook, and would be lost without it. Friends and I use it to co-ordinate our playgroups, bookclubs, birthday parties, etc. But I think it is important to be aware that what you post there can become pretty public knowledge, so you need to be careful.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

"ftmom" wrote:

I wouldnt 'blame the victim' as I dont think they really did anything wrong by posting, and unless they left the door open with a big 'rob me' sign they did not invite someone to rob them. It is all on the criminal.

But that said, I dont post when I am away, and I think it is a bad idea to do so. Social media is a playground for criminals. They just arrested a serial rapist/killer near us. He found all his victims on facebook. My husband is RCMP and they see this sort of thing all the time. People are often not 'friends' with all the people they are 'friends' with on facebook, not to mention the new feature on facebook where I can see my friends, friends, statuses if my friend commented on them.

I love my facebook, and would be lost without it. Friends and I use it to co-ordinate our playgroups, bookclubs, birthday parties, etc. But I think it is important to be aware that what you post there can become pretty public knowledge, so you need to be careful.

So much is anyway. I could go to a local business where people wear their full names on their name tags and search the white pages for their address, I could look up their home value on zillow, and whether they are renting or own on propertyshark. I could also find out how many people live at that address. Since I know the person is at work (hence getting a name to search in the first place), I could go clean his house out.

But no need. Most people are at work during the day, and I know when certain neighbors are home and gone.

As for finding victims on facebook, killers also find their victims in parking lots, at bars, working the streets, houses, college dorms, following them home from the post office...

criminals will never be at a loss for victims.

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

"ethanwinfield" wrote:

So much is anyway. I could go to a local business where people wear their full names on their name tags and search the white pages for their address, I could look up their home value on zillow, and whether they are renting or own on propertyshark. I could also find out how many people live at that address. Since I know the person is at work (hence getting a name to search in the first place), I could go clean his house out.

But no need. Most people are at work during the day, and I know when certain neighbors are home and gone.

As for finding victims on facebook, killers also find their victims in parking lots, at bars, working the streets, houses, college dorms, following them home from the post office...

criminals will never be at a loss for victims.

Im not arguing against this. But just as I am careful not to be alone after dark in a parking lot, keep my hand on my drink in a bar and leave with friends, lock my doors, etc, I need to be careful on facebook.

The problem with sites like facebook (IMO) is that they are so impersonal people forget that there are real people behind the words and stop being as careful. And people are on it so much that they get really comfortable. It stops being the dark parking lot you have never been in before (slightly creepy) and becomes more like the one you walk through every day on your way off work. Nothing ever happens, and you get comfortable....until the day something bad does happen.

Of course there are millions of ways that criminals find their victims, but that doesn't mean that we just give up and let them come, at least not for me. I am going to do whatever I can to protect myself and my family. That includes, but is not exclusive to, restricting the information I give out on facebook.

Joined: 10/22/06
Posts: 1033

Ah, I guess the many of the commenters on this article have never made a stupid mistake then? Wink We have all learned lessons the hard way. Yes, not so smart to post vacation (or other private information) on FB, especially depending on your audience and privacy settings. But who is to say this "friend" of his couldn't also have over heard a conversation the victim had about his vacation IRL and have committed the same crime?

Not a fan of the "blame the victim" mentality. It's all well and good until you are the victim yourself...

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"ftmom" wrote:

Im not arguing against this. But just as I am careful not to be alone after dark in a parking lot, keep my hand on my drink in a bar and leave with friends, lock my doors, etc, I need to be careful on facebook.

The problem with sites like facebook (IMO) is that they are so impersonal people forget that there are real people behind the words and stop being as careful. And people are on it so much that they get really comfortable. It stops being the dark parking lot you have never been in before (slightly creepy) and becomes more like the one you walk through every day on your way off work. Nothing ever happens, and you get comfortable....until the day something bad does happen.

Of course there are millions of ways that criminals find their victims, but that doesn't mean that we just give up and let them come, at least not for me. I am going to do whatever I can to protect myself and my family. That includes, but is not exclusive to, restricting the information I give out on facebook.

I think that this is really well said, and I agree with you! I even catch myself on here ~ giving out too much info or whatever, and then remembering that this is a public site! I used to post pictures of my kids and whatnot, now it would totally freak me out to do that (on here, I post lots on FB as my settings are locked down to friends only etc). That said, my husband is really adamant that I don't give out info on FB about vacations, or post when he is out of town and I am home alone with the kids. I TOTALLY don't think that we ought to blame the victim in this case, but I do think that it is a good reality check about how much info we actually give out to people on FB (or here!).

RebeccaA'07's picture
Joined: 11/19/07
Posts: 1628

If you have a public profile or a lot of friends that you really don't know all that well, it's probably not smart to post that your house will be empty for a week. I'm not blaming the victim, but it's best to be safer especially when you're gone on vacation and nobody is watching your house.

elleon17's picture
Joined: 01/26/09
Posts: 1981

"Princess&ThePea" wrote:

If you have a public profile, I'd say it's not the wisest of choices, yes.

I agree.

I still tend not to do it. Also, I don't post anything that would indicate I am home alone until after the fact. Better safe than sorry I guess.

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
Posts: 3311

I posted about my entire vacation on FB....while we were on vacation. I also don't have the most secure settings.....i have the publicity of my photos, in particular set to "Friends of Friends"....this is because there are people that my husband is friends with that likes to see my photos.

But i understand that its not 100 percent safe. My immediate audience...the ones who get the pictures automatically, i feel safe about sharing that info with them, if they were to double cross me than shame on them. The second ring of people? The friends of friends, the vast majority of them would not see my info unless they were purposely combing through their friends, and trying to find friends of their friends on vacation.

The ones that are friends of people I've tagged in photos (thus giving them a direct route to 'discovering' me)....I accept that its not 100% safe but feel safe enough.

I don't think i've ever posted when I'm by myself at home or anything like that. I sort of play it in between. I take some general precautions, but I'm not going to make myself paranoid over all of it.

As one safety measure though, i've created two separate FB accounts, one for people i know IRL and one for people that i know from the internet. It kind of bums me out that i have to do it this way because there are people on my internet friends FB account that I'd really rather have on my other account....because i sorely neglect my 'internet friends' FB account. The only reason i do this is because I have the 'friends of friends' settings on. While i trust the internet friends that I friend directly.....friends of internet friends feels just a little too remote to me and i don't really want them to have access to stuff.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

I don't go as far as blaming the victim, but it's a damned stupid thing to do.

We have a neighbor who posts things like, "Having dinner at Red Lobster!" We have a key to this neighbor's place (they also have ours). I told DH one night when I saw that on FB, the closest Red Lobster is in San Bruno, that's at least 20 minutes driving time if you're lucky, sounds like a good time to go poke around in their nightstand drawer, and see what kind of wine they drink when they don't have friends over, LOL!

fudd8963's picture
Joined: 12/27/07
Posts: 1630

I always cringe when I see people post that they are on vacation or when they post their every move. Having had my house broken into before, this is a very sensitive subject for me. However, I don't think the victim is to blame either.

Joined: 01/18/06
Posts: 402

I haven't posted here in ages, but since I write for USAonWatch (national Neighborhood Watch), I wanted to share an article I wrote this summer:

http://www.usaonwatch.org/resource/publication.aspx?PublicationId=115

I look at it this way: You wouldn't broadcast your vacation plans on your home voicemail message, so why would you do it on social media sites? My only caveat would be if FB page settings are on private and all friends with viewing privileges are known to be trustworthy. That last bit sounds like a no-brainer, but there are lots of folks who friend strangers as gaming buddies, etc.

Yes, the criminal, not the victim, is the one to blame for committing the crime. Still, home invasions are crimes of opportunity. Burglars case neighborhoods (and the Web) looking for the easiest target so that they get in and out in quickly. We owe it to ourselves and our neighbors to take preventive measures to reduce our risk of victimization.

SaucyVidel's picture
Joined: 07/20/06
Posts: 634

There has been a spike in thes burglaries linked to Twitter feeds and Facebook posts over the past few years, and yes, when I did the social networking song and dance I was cautious about not giving specific information about when we were out of town until after the fact, as a precaution. This isn't an unknown or new phenomena and prudence is necessary whenever 'inviting' people to know about your life or habits.

Common sense, I'd say, but an easy thing to overlook.