How Social Media Can Lead Thieves Right To You

From birthdays to vacations, you probably share all of life's best moments on social media. But you could also be putting a target on your back for thieves.

We all remember the Kim Kardashian robbery in Paris. Masked men robbed the reality show celebrity at gunpoint and got away with 10 million dollars’ worth of jewelry, including her 20 carat diamond ring, the same ring she had just shown off on social media.

Not long after, French investigators pointed the finger at Kardashian, saying her oversharing tipped off the robbers to where she was and what she was carrying.

Even Colts Long Snapper Matt Overton has had a close call. He uses social media to share all kinds of moments with fans on and off the field.

“I probably use social media way too much," said Overton.

But he nearly lost his peace of mind in a single snap.

“There was one time where my mom accidentally posted my address. It wasn't intentional. The mailbox was in the background.”

Fortunately, Overton deleted the picture before it was too late.

But you don't have to be a celebrity to catch the eye of a criminal. Jason Rufus was on vacation in Mexico, when a burglar walked right into his home and stole his TV. Rufus said he had Snapchatted about his trip earlier, and that might have tipped off the burglar.

"Took it off and then just went straight out the door with it and that’s the last I saw it," he explained.

"People will post information about their lives, about themselves, about their family and their friends. Often times, they don’t consider how that could be used by someone with a bad intention," said Captain Chuck Cohen with the Indiana State Police Cyber Crimes Unit.

Law enforcement across the country are seeing a wave of crimes linked to social media. Investigators say people just don't get it -- each picture, tweet or check-in is another clue that could lead criminals to you.

"It could paint a very clear picture about you, your activities, and what you’re going to be doing now and in the future.”

Now there are even apps to help criminals find an easy prey. Cohen showed us one app that pulls up anyone using social media around him. Then the app connects all of their digital content to give him a pretty good idea of their world.

"All you have to do is point this at a hotel and see who is in that hotel right now and what they’re posting about, where they’re at at the hotel, and what they’re doing," he explained.

It's downright scary.

Eric Harvey, Director of the new Center for Advancement of Digital Marketing/Analytics (CADMA) at Ball State, showed a picture posted by students who were taking a bus trip to Indianapolis for the day.

"So here you got a group of students, alright, they’re going on a bus to Indy today. Right? Well, their friends in the dorm can see this stuff.”

Harvey said you should never publicize how long you're going to be away from your home or your valuables.

Then he pulled up a picture of two female students out for the night, but you couldn't tell where they were. This one was a 'safe' post.

"If you’re in a club or a bar or something like that, this is how you want to do it, because there’s no background.”

Here are some tips you should follow:

  • Do turn off geo-tagging on your cell phone.
  • Do check your surroundings before snapping a selfie.
  • Do post your whereabouts later.
  • Don’t tell people where you are in real time.
  • Don’t share about your friends without their permission.
  • Don’t ever show off your valuables.