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Twitter user says vacation tweets led to burglary

Arizona man who sent tweets about going out of town comes home to find his home burglarized. He blames his tweets for tipping off the thieves.

Elinor Mills Former Staff Writer
Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service and the Associated Press.
Elinor Mills
2 min read

Twitter user's tweets revealed he was out of town. Did that tip off a burglar? Twitter

Here's either a cautionary tale or an example of social-media paranoia. An Arizona man believes that his Twitter messages about going out of town led to a burglary at his home while he was away.

Israel Hyman posted to approximately 2,000 followers on Twitter that he and his wife were "preparing to head out of town," that they had "another 10 hours of driving ahead" and later, that they "made it to Kansas City."

When he came home, he found that someone had broken into his house and stolen thousands of dollars worth of video equipment he used for his video business, IzzyVideo.com, which he uses for his Twitter account.

"My wife thinks it could be a random thing, but I just have my suspicions," he told the Associated Press. "They didn't take any of our normal consumer electronics."

Personally, I don't think it's a good idea to advertise to the world that your home will be unoccupied for a period of time. I also don't think it's necessary to reveal too many other personal details on social media sites that could be used for identity fraud, like your birth date.

The real-time aspect to mobile uploads makes this situation even more risky and location-aware technology seems like it would be a great tool for spies of all kinds. In this excellent article in Wired, Mathew Honan records his experience being a social geoapps guinea pig.

"Did I really want to tell the world that I was out of town?" he writes. "Because the card in my camera automatically added location data to my photos, anyone who cared to look at my Flickr page could see my computers, my spendy bicycle, and my large flatscreen TV all pinpointed on an online photo map. Hell, with a few clicks you could get driving directions right to my place--and with a few more you could get black gloves and a lock pick delivered to your home."

As a test, he innocently stalked a woman taking a photo in Golden Gate Park with her iPhone 3G. He searched the Flickr map and found one of the shots the woman took and verified it was her by viewing her photo stream. He then looked at her photos on the Flickr map and saw a cluster of images in one spot. The shots were of an interior of what was likely her apartment.

"Now I know where she lives," he writes.