Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Crime Facebook Privacy Security Social Networks Idle

Burglary Ring Used Facebook Places To Find Targets 152

Posted by timothy
from the my-younger-cousins-like-this-and-3-other-pages dept.
Kilrah_il writes "A burglary ring was caught in Nashua, NH due to the vigilance of an off-duty police officer. The group is credited with 50 acts of burglary, the targets chosen because they posted their absence from home on the Internet. '"Be careful of what you post on these social networking sites," said Capt. Ron Dickerson. "We know for a fact that some of these players, some of these criminals, were looking on these sites and identifying their targets through these social networking sites."' Well, I guess the prophecies came true."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Burglary Ring Used Facebook Places To Find Targets

Comments Filter:
  • Nothing new (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dyinobal (1427207) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:22PM (#33555552)
    There was a group or person that was using twitter, to find targets
    • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mickwd (196449) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:28PM (#33555624)

      And Google Street View's a gift for casing the joint - checking houses without burglar alarms, or with old/cheap ones, checking access and escape routes, etc - with no suspicion whatsoever, and no chance of a neighbour being able to remember someone acting a bit strangely a few days before a burglary took place.

      • by zero.kalvin (1231372) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:30PM (#33555664)
        Obligatory Futurama quote: Professor: Amy, technology isn't intrinsically good or evil. It's how it's used. Like the Death Ray.
      • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:50PM (#33555830)

        And Google Street View's a gift for casing the joint - checking houses without burglar alarms, or with old/cheap ones

        Yeah because you can totally see a burglar alarm from the street -- with google's resolution you can't even see if they have a sticker in the window.

        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Aren't burglar alarms housed in big red/blue boxes on the outside of houses? I'm sure you could spot one of those from the street ...

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

            Aren't burglar alarms housed in big red/blue boxes on the outside of houses?

            Yeah, they even have labels on them that say "burglar alarm - do not tamper under penalty of law!"

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Darkness404 (1287218)
        The problem is, the media jumps on all this stuff like its brand new, thieves did the same thing ages ago. Just drive around a neighborhood where someone said at the bar they were going out of town and break in with a car with cheap magnetic decals of a cable company/telephone company/whatever.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The problem is, the media jumps on all this stuff like its brand new

          That's usually the case with any form of Darwinism. Hey stupid, don't post your whereabouts and habits on the public Internet unless you want *everybody* to know about them including some very unsavory people. How hard is this to understand? Anybody who doesn't comprehend that doesn't want to. A little cause and effect is just the cure.

          Hey America I hate to break it to you, but being completely oblivious about the potential conseque

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by fast turtle (1118037)

            I'd love them to break into my home. It's on Starbase 963, Deck 35, Corridor J in the Beta Quadrant because if anyone is able to successfully break in, then I want access to their ship so I can get home.

        • by mickwd (196449) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @06:10PM (#33555986)

          Ah yes, the old "hang around in a bar until someone shouts out their address, and that they're going out of town for a while, then pull up outside their house in a car with cheap magnetic decals of a cable company" trick.

          Funny how the cops never seem to think of going to the local magnetic-decals-of-cable-companies shop and asking questions, isn't it?

        • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Insightful)

          by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @08:54PM (#33557188) Journal
          Funeral notices are the classic... what close family members don't go to the funeral?
        • by Bungie (192858)

          Yeah maybe that happened in the 80's but this is 2010. In my area (of s major Canadian city) theives don't ever bother with such elaborate plans involving magnetic decals or finding when people are out. It's pretty common for them just kick in the door. If anyone is home they hold them at gunpoint or lock them in a room. Then they just take what they want from the house and load it into a stolen truck. It seriously happens more than you'd believe.

          • by xaxa (988988)

            It hardly happens at all in the UK. It's one reason we like our anti-gun laws the way they are :-)

            (Burglars here presumably make some effort to see that the house is empty, then kick a door in. If there's someone in the house they'll probably -- though not always -- flee. "Aggrevated burglary" has a much harsher sentence, and there are lots more houses.)

      • by hex0D (1890162)
        No, it's really not. Whether people are noticing what your doing or not is the most important factor in getting away with a crime. Casing a joint in person remains the only real way to determine this, AFAIK, and all the other things you mention are much better evaluated by a visit as well. Street View isn't really going to show you that the neighbor typically sits looking out on where you want to enter, and it's much less a big deal being caught acting suspiciously than it is red handed in a criminal act
      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Want to discourage 95% of all idiots that rob homes? go on Ebay and buy ADT stickers and Signs. install them.

        TADA! They will move on to a easier target just by driving by and looking at the house.

        Also what kind of idiots are posting their location PUBLICALLY? What nimrod has his profile visible to anyone but friends?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by hex0D (1890162)
      It's no different from people letting their mail / newspapers stack up, leaving conspicuously vacant garages / parking spots, all the house lights off or any number of obvious "I'm not home! Good time to rob me!" signs.

      Headline might as well be 'Bad Things Happen To Those Who Make Dumb Choices'

      • Re:Nothing new (Score:4, Insightful)

        by causality (777677) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @06:29PM (#33556126)

        Headline might as well be 'Bad Things Happen To Those Who Make Dumb Choices'

        I think this is another "but somehow it's different because a computer was involved!" type of issue.

        • by retchdog (1319261)

          It is different. A postal mailbox doesn't have a button hidden behind the hinge of the front door which, unless you press it, will publish the fronts of your envelopes (but only the fronts, anything more would be invasive y'see) and summary statistics on mail received, in the Orangeville Residents' Bulletin and Book of Faces.

          OK it's not a perfect analogy, and maybe it's not fundamentally different, but online life has more gotchas than what meets the eye. Privacy and forgetting have to be engineered in; the

          • by causality (777677)

            It is different. A postal mailbox doesn't have a button hidden behind the hinge of the front door which, unless you press it, will publish the fronts of your envelopes (but only the fronts, anything more would be invasive y'see) and summary statistics on mail received, in the Orangeville Residents' Bulletin and Book of Faces.

            OK it's not a perfect analogy, and maybe it's not fundamentally different, but online life has more gotchas than what meets the eye. Privacy and forgetting have to be engineered in; there aren't physical limitations.

            The only thing there is to assume is that the Internet is a public resource and anything you publish there is fully public unless you have a very good, verifiable, evidence-based reason to believe otherwise. It's that simple.

        • I think this is another "but somehow it's different because a computer was involved!" type of issue.

          I'll take it. Anything that gets people to raise the awareness of what they post on sites like Facebook. I'm just waiting for the day one of my family members publicly posts their address or phone number without thinking.

          • by grrrl (110084)

            "Anything that gets people to raise the awareness of what they post on sites like Facebook. I'm just waiting for the day one of my family members publicly posts their address or phone number without thinking."

            And that's different to your address and phone number (including mobiles if you choose) appearing in the phone book that everyone has a copy of IN THEIR HOUSE (or available on the internet)?

            I don't disagree with keeping all such info separate, but it's not really difficult for someone who wants to find

            • And that's different to your address and phone number (including mobiles if you choose) appearing in the phone book that everyone has a copy of IN THEIR HOUSE (or available on the internet)?

              Yes. The names in that phone book are not as easy to link to me. (Never mind that I do not have my name in any phone books.)

              I don't disagree with keeping all such info separate, but it's not really difficult for someone who wants to find out about you doing so.

              The amount of energy spent finding that information is a factor. Attracting people towards that information is a factor. Actually.. being a 'grrl' you should already understand that.

        • by clickety6 (141178)

          I think this is another "but somehow it's different because a computer was involved!" type of issue.

          A computer was involved? Quick - patent the method!

      • by arivanov (12034)

        Wrong analogy.

        It is no different from your kid saying that he is going somewhere in the schoolyard. My neighbour two houses down the street from me had that one happen to him a couple of months back. His kid was overly talkative about their vacation plans.

    • "There was a group or person that was using twitter, to find targets"

      Rob me now [robmenow.com]
  • Didn't someone already create a webpage called PleaseRobMe or something like that
    using people's social networking locations?

  • Not Places (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:26PM (#33555608)

    They looked for status messages saying people were on vacation. A bit different from using Places.

    • But now, thanks to Places and the idiots that use it, burgling is easier than ever!
      • Silver Lining (Score:5, Interesting)

        by causality (777677) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @06:34PM (#33556162)

        But now, thanks to Places and the idiots that use it, burgling is easier than ever!

        There is a silver lining to that cloud. The more criminals are tempted to go after those who actively make themselves an easy target, the more likely it is that those with a bit of sense will be left alone. This means you now have more control than ever over whether this will happen to you. Choice is good.

        • Re:Silver Lining (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Nerdfest (867930) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @09:33PM (#33557398)
          It also makes it very easy to set criminals up for a little 'self defence'. Smart law enforcement could also be doing the same sort of thing as they do with 'bait' cars in high car theft areas.
        • by jittles (1613415)

          There is a silver lining to that cloud. The more criminals are tempted to go after those who actively make themselves an easy target, the more likely it is that those with a bit of sense will be left alone. This means you now have more control than ever over whether this will happen to you. Choice is good.

          Just as long as that easy target isn't your teenager telling all of his/her friends that you're out of town on facebook! You can't keep track of every stupid thing your child does.

          • by causality (777677)

            There is a silver lining to that cloud. The more criminals are tempted to go after those who actively make themselves an easy target, the more likely it is that those with a bit of sense will be left alone. This means you now have more control than ever over whether this will happen to you. Choice is good.

            Just as long as that easy target isn't your teenager telling all of his/her friends that you're out of town on facebook! You can't keep track of every stupid thing your child does.

            Instead you can teach them better than that. Of course, that isn't compatible with the assumption that they're going to do stupid things no matter what and there's nothing you can do about it.

            The schools understand something quite well. The best way to make an impressionable young person into an idiot is to treat them like one.

    • How much do you want to bet that the victims were using Facebook's default privacy settings...
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by causality (777677)

        How much do you want to bet that the victims were using Facebook's default privacy settings...

        My default privacy settings are the best available because I don't use Facebook.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          Neither do I, but I hear only the worst things about Facebook's default privacy settings.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I have very open privacy settings. I don't trust Facebook with any degree of privacy, and with my privacy settings set to, essentially, everybody, I don't have any false sense of security. I never put anything on Facebook I don't want the whole world to see (except Mom, who isn't on line), so why restrict it anyway?

  • hmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@gma ... minus herbivore> on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:31PM (#33555680) Homepage
    Or, alternately, don't add burglars as facebook friends.
    • Re:hmm (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:43PM (#33555788)

      and mind your privacy settings regarding "Everyone."

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jroysdon (201893)

      Yeah, because that is so easy to predict.

      Here's the thing, when you have kids, you end up friending a ton of people you know marginally. You also find out a lot of things that you can have talks with your kids about (not mentioning any names in those talks, just bring up the topic in general... "hey, what would you do if you found out some of your friends did such and such?").

      My kids don't have Facebook accounts, but most of their IRL friends at school and church do.

      But I think this shows that you shouldn'

      • by causality (777677)

        Yeah, because that is so easy to predict.

        Here's the thing, when you have kids, you end up friending a ton of people you know marginally. You also find out a lot of things that you can have talks with your kids about (not mentioning any names in those talks, just bring up the topic in general... "hey, what would you do if you found out some of your friends did such and such?").

        My kids don't have Facebook accounts, but most of their IRL friends at school and church do.

        But I think this shows that you shouldn't put anything online that you don't want to put right in front of your house. Don't put up a flier "gone out of town 3 weeks" on your front door and don't put it on Facebook either. Share the photos when you get back.

        Sounds like a good topic for me and my family to talk about at dinner tonight.

        If you have been a good model and example to your family of common sense and instilled the same virtue in them, gently and patiently but unambiguously correcting any failures to apply it, then any specific talk about this particular subject would be redundant.

        If you've failed to uphold that standard then the very best you could do is a list of "dos and dont's". That list might or might not include potential perils of using Facebook but anything you leave out of that list would remain a vulnerability fro

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jroysdon (201893)

          It's not anywhere near as straight-forward as that. Furthermore, peer pressure is difficult even with the best parenting.

          • by causality (777677)

            It's not anywhere near as straight-forward as that. Furthermore, peer pressure is difficult even with the best parenting.

            That's only true when you pressure your children to behave (for example, getting upset and intimidating them into "being good" instead of correcting and instructing them with calm but unyielding authority). That teaches them to respond to pressure and that this is normal. Then when someone else comes along who also knows how to pressure them, you have this tug-of-war that you very well may end up losing since you can't be there all the time to counter every bad influence.

            It is as straightforward as tha

            • If you think anything in child rearing is "as straightforward as that", you have no real knowledge of children or raising them, and I can't take anything you say seriously. The best you can possibly say is that whatever you did worked for your kid(s).

      • Here's the thing, when you have kids, you end up friending a ton of people you know marginally.

        I have a six year old son myself and my friends on facebook are still, well, my friends. I believe that's why they call it "friends", not "people you kinda met once, but don't really know". I can honestly say that I don't have a single friend on facebook that I wouldn't trust with a key to my apartment, so I certainly don't mind any of them knowing if I'm going on vacation. Then again, I only have like 10 friends on facebook, including my closest family (mother, father and sister).

      • by NuShrike (561140)

        How about this, don't friend people you don't really know then. QED.

        Alternatively, use Facebook's filtering, and stop being a pithy twit giving up info about yourself; whatever happens, it's self-inflicted. Most robberies are by people you know.

      • Personally, I make extensive use of Friend Lists. I have a list for friends from High School (10+ yrs ago), a list for people from my church... one for my family (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc)... on for my wife's family... one for immediate family.... one for close friends and people I have some basic trust in... and one for people I don't know at all but added to gain some advantage in a FB game. My default postings are only visible to immediate family and close friends only. This includes anything from Gow

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:36PM (#33555724)

    ...No where in TFA was Facebook Places mentioned, just idiots who announced that they would not be at home. Looks like the submitter has an axe to grind with Places.

    • by flowwolf (1824892)

      It's not entirely horseshit: Burglars didn't use the places okay. Though there is no denying that it could be used for this means. It may even be more effective of a tool than simple status searches. The original submitter has good intentions. Your's are blinded by the hype job that is location based services right now. They are in no way a benefit to consumers, only marketers.

      This specific situation may not be tied to FB:Places; However, the story is a great example of how burglars today are collud

  • Reminds me... (Score:5, Informative)

    by magsol (1406749) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @05:56PM (#33555876) Journal
    of this app [pleaserobme.com].
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Burger King used facebook places to find targets

    Terrifying stuff.

  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @06:09PM (#33555974) Homepage

    Regarding online safety, security through obscurity should not be overlooked. It's crap like this (and stuff in the work place) as to why I don't blab on about intimate details of my life to strangers.

    • by DerekLyons (302214) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .retawriaf.> on Sunday September 12, 2010 @06:58PM (#33556342) Homepage

      Regarding online safety, security through obscurity should not be overlooked.

      As I've been saying here on Slashdot for years; the mantra so often chanted here ("security through obscurity is no security at all"), is dead wrong. Security professionals well know that obscurity is a valuable part of their arsenal - because an intruder or attacker cannot prepare in advance for a defensive or security measure he does not know is there.

      • by Legion303 (97901) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @10:03PM (#33557566) Homepage

        Security through obscurity is worthless. I think what you mean is "security WITH obscurity," which is one of the levels of layered security everyone should use.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        "security through obscurity" is NOT "I have a hidden silent alarm and once they get inside there is a guard dog even though there are no signs"

        "security through obscurity" is "I can leave my doors unlocked because I live in the middle of nowhere" or "My house is unremarkable and small, nobody will think to rob me. I'll leave my doors unlocked." It's relying on the fact that your operating system or application software is nonstandard, so there are no pre-made rootkits for it. And relying on ONLY that for

      • Yep. When you can't plan for it, risk goes through the roof. That's why, say, the Secret Service keeps presidential protection details a secret. It isn't because the protection is extremely weak, far from it, it is some of if not the best in the world. However it is just that much harder to get through if you don't know what all is there. Where are all the agents station? How are the armed? Who is under cover? What kind of backup do they have? What are the escape routes? If all this is known, it is easier t

  • We HAVE a right to privacy - things done in private should stay there.

    We THINK we have a right to anonymity - that somehow, things done in a public place or forum will not be connected with our identity.

    People ACT with stupidity, when they post private information on a public forum with their identity specifically attached.

    Society needs to read some Niven and Pournelle and learn what "Evolution in action means."

  • by iONiUM (530420) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @06:20PM (#33556082) Homepage Journal

    This isn't surprising to me because Facebook and Twitter apps on mobile (iPhone and android) have a "location" feature in them that always really scared me. Basically it posts your position along with your post, and people can track you..

    I guess that's not directly related to this particular burglary ring, but it could be used in the same way.. or just to rob people of their phone. "Person A is at the starbucks and they clearly have an iPhone since Facebook says 'posted from my iPhone'.."

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by c_forq (924234)
      I don't understand this fear. Anyone that knows me, or follows me for even a single day, will know I'm at work 9-5 on Monday through Friday. How does posting with my location during this time change anything?
      • by ColdGrits (204506)
        'cos that one time you post and your location is half way round the world as you are on holiday, kinda gives a massive clue that you are not going to be round for a bit and your property ripe for a visit from the guys with the stripy jumpers.
      • by boxwood (1742976)

        because now people that don't know you don't even have to waste their time following you around to know your routine.

  • practicalities (Score:4, Insightful)

    by merry-v (1160825) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @06:22PM (#33556092)

    i don't understand how the burglars were able to quickly trawl facebook to find :

    a) the street addresses of the people who were on holiday, not normally stored in facebook?
    b) who did not co-habit with people who were not on holiday
    c) who had stuff worth stealing
    d) living within easy driving distance of the burglar
    e) no alarm, neighborhood watch, alert neighbours etc
    f) the exact days of leaving and arriving back

    burglars already have lots of ways to find a target house without data mining social networking sites, e.g. pushing flyers half-way into letter boxes then coming back in two days to see if any are still untouched, driving buy in the evening to see if lights are off etc etc.

    is it possible that some of those got burgled who had posted about their holiday, and told the police "that must be the reason" ? I know TFA asserts that the police know the gang used facebook, but something does not add up here. seems like BS to me.

    • Re:practicalities (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, 2010 @06:50PM (#33556264)

      For the street address, if people use their full name in facebook and list their town, there's a good chance that you can get a correct address from the white pages. As for whether other people will be home, if they say "family vacation", that gives a good probability that every one in the house will be gone. As to the other things you pointed out (alarm, neighborhood watch, whether they have stuff worth stealing), you're correct. They probably have to case the joint in person to get that info. But at least they know they're casing a place that will be vacant on a particular day. Someone might case my house and determine I'm an excellent prospect, but if I don't go on vacation for a year then they haven't got anything.

  • Paranoid much? (Score:5, Informative)

    by w0mprat (1317953) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @06:26PM (#33556110)
    Facebook places is only for iPhone and phones that support W3 geolocation, and only available via native application or touch.facebook.com. You also actually have to explicitly 'check in' / 'check out' of places.

    It amazes the ammount of paranoid people turning it off believing it tracks their location whereever they log into face book. It's not even available worldwide completely.

    From TFFBFAQ: "At this time, the Places application is available to users in the United States with mobile access to the Facebook application for iPhone or touch.facebook.com"

    Even with places turned off, you only need to post "going to fiji for 6 weeks w00t" and everybody knows you're not home. It amazes me the number of people, especially young females who post "I'm home alone tonight and bored" - you can be sure I'm in contact with the really quickly to tell them how dangerous that is and if I they feel unsafe I could .... wait I'm going off topic...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ...especially young females who post "I'm home alone tonight and bored"

      Go on...

    • Facebook places is only for iPhone and phones that support W3 geolocation, and only available via native application or touch.facebook.com. You also actually have to explicitly 'check in' / 'check out' of places.

      Only half correct. You state that the metaphorical 'you' has to explicitly have to 'check in' to places, but you're friends have the ability to check you into places by default. "Out having coffee with @w0mprat, having a great convo about privacy, could last hours"

      from blog.facebook.com....
      "When your friends check you in, it is as if you have checked in at that place yourself. You also will appear checked-in to your friends."

  • I've noticed an increase in people claiming to be old friends on facebook lately. "rofl, u remember me." un uhn. Give me a better "how you know me" answer. Even then, my friends get a fairly empty profile.
    • I got a friend request once from some generic profile, supposedly for an organization related to where I'm located. Looked at it, and I couldn't tell who they were or how they might have been related to me in any way. Did these clowns think I was going to friend them? Hell, I don't want some of the friends I already have, so I'm certainly not going to add more that I can't even identify.

  • I know of an HOA that installed security cameras- apparently the objective was not to have them monitored by a security company, but to hand out the cameras' IP so that homeowner who knew about it could do their own security. I guess it never dawned on anyone that the cameras could be used just as easily to *commit* a crime, rather than prevent it.

  • by Americano (920576) on Sunday September 12, 2010 @08:21PM (#33556974)

    ... from the Nashua Telegraph [nashuatelegraph.com], the local newspaper for Nashua, NH. It's not yet clear how many of the burglaries were related to Facebook status updates - I've seen some news reports saying "all of them," and a few saying "only one."

    I think this case could be a very good lever for getting Facebook to change default permissions to "friends only" for everything, as most of the stories are suggesting that, where there's a facebook connection, the profiles were set to the default "everybody can ready my stuff" setting.

  • I recently bit the bullet and deleted my FB account - I've had concerns about privacy on there from the get go. I did however start a new account using a name that is similar but not quite the same as my real name. I figure it will be hard for most people to find me that aren't in my immediate circle of trusted friends.

    So, now I am starting to re-friend everyone which also has a couple of advantages. I get to say hi to a few people I haven't been in direct contact with when I drop them a new friend request

  • Typical media hype (Score:4, Informative)

    by Spinland (1865248) on Monday September 13, 2010 @07:20AM (#33559616)

    From another source [pcmag.com], they didn't use Places at all.

    "We've been in contact with the Nashua police, and they confirmed that they while they have an ongoing investigation and have already made a number of arrests, the only Facebook link was that one of those arrested had a Facebook friend who posted about leaving town in the near future (which is why they believe that home was targeted) and it had nothing to do with Facebook Places," said a Facebook spokesman in an email interview with Cnet's Caroline McCarthy.

  • JohnQP has checked in at Mo's Gun Emporium. - "Stocking up on some shotgun shells, then off to Jay's Alarms for even MORE motion sensors."

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson

Working...