Around a third of holidaymakers tell the world they are away from home – and the news opens the door for opportunist thieves to break in to homes without fear of discovery until they are well away from the scene of the crime.
Insurers suspect crooks monitor Facebook and Twitter for hints that messengers are out of the country – and with 35 million British social networking users that 33% of of the total adds up to a lot of empty flats and houses.
The Association of British Insurers, the voice of the industry, quotes anecdotal evidence of burglars looking for victims online with a single, confirmed court case from the USA last year, which involved a gang of criminals broke in to around 50 homes after scouting Facebook to find out when the householders were on holiday.
Nevertheless, insurers received an average 752 claims a day last summer from householders who were victims of burglars. Insurers say claims are higher in the summer holidays than any other time of the year.
Nick Starling, the ABI’s Director of General Insurance and Health, said: “Unoccupied summer homes are already more vulnerable to burglary, without advertising online that you are away. With criminals increasingly going online to access personal details, avoid divulging personal information, such as your holiday plans, online.
“Simple, common sense steps around ensuring your home is secure and not advertising that you are away will greatly reduce the risk of unwelcome visitors while enjoying your summer break.”
Insurers are also urging householders to safeguard their homes against burglary while they are on holiday.
Suggestions include asking a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your home, and making sure doors, windows and outbuildings, such as sheds and garages, are locked. And of course make sure you have comprehensive buildings and contents insurance.