News from the Desk of Sheriff James F. Potter, "Strangers Looking at Your Property"

Strangers Looking at Your Property (2) - Copy
Hey DeSoto, I wanted to ask each of you some questions that may sound a little silly at first. When a complete stranger knocks on your door, do you let them come in, take a look around and see what cool stuff you have? Do you let them roam through your garage, barn, or shed? If the answer is no, then we are on the same page! Much like your home, social media creates opportunities for complete strangers to invade your privacy and scroll through your life simply by reading your posts and perusing your pictures. 
Suddenly, that brand new side-by-side or ATV that you casually posted to your page as you were riding with your family becomes a target for thieves!! So, let me ask again. Would you invite a total stranger to your home or property so they could take their time and see what they could steal from you? If you answered “No,” then please keep reading!!  
Statistics and suspect interviews show that 4 out of 5 burglaries were committed by thieves who chose their “targets” (victims) by browsing their social media pages, such as Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Yes, you are reading correctly!! Thieves have fully taken advantage of the technologies we take for granted and readily use each day to share life’s moments with family and friends.    
For example: 
If you advertise your boat for sale on Facebook Marketplace, you’re likely to include a photo. What does this tell the burglars?
The location of the boat if you have your GPS location connected to your Facebook account.
Photos of the boat will likely show the place you keep the boat stored on your property (next to the barn, behind the house, etc.).
Photos of the boat will allow them to scan for any security equipment that may be on the boat (GPS/steering wheel locks, etc.).
Photos of the boat trailer allow the thief to ensure they bring the correct tow hitch and a powerful enough vehicle to steal your boat. 
Listing the VIN provides a criminal with a valid VIN to use for a stolen boat they may already possess that matches the make/model of your boat.
From your “For Sale” post, a person is able to view your main social media profile, which often displays your place of employment and various other personal information. What does this tell the burglars?
The target works at XYZ, which is a standard Monday through Friday, 9-5 job… the best time to steal their boat would be after bedtime or while they’re at work. 
There are no photos of dogs on the target’s social media, so they likely don’t have any that will bite or alert the owners to the thief’s presence on their property.
If there are photos of your home on your social media pages, thieves can scan for security cameras and alarm systems, and they can possibly determine what vehicles you drive to ensure you’re not home.
If your social media profile privacy settings aren’t stringent, thieves can even see posts you make about being out of town or checking into a restaurant for dinner, and they can learn your home and away patterns. 
How can you protect yourself and your valuables?
Keep your social media privacy settings up to date and be mindful of what is in the background of the photos you post.
Take a look at your house on Google Earth or Google Maps, are your valuables (boats, four-wheelers, etc.) visible in an open, unsecured area on the map? 
Invest in security cameras and motion lights.
Place trackers on your items in well-hidden areas that thieves may not think to look.
ALWAYS secure and lock your doors, windows, gates, trailers, and valuables!
Remember that the same thieves who are researching your valuables on social media are also performing reconnaissance by driving around prospective victims’ homes, businesses, or properties to get a better feel for their prospective crime. So when you see a strange vehicle in your area or maybe on your camera system pulling in your driveway and leaving, don’t dismiss this as anything. Call law enforcement and pass the information on. 
Remember, if you see anything suspicious, please call us so we can check it out. Be Safe, Be Kind, and God Bless!!
Sheriff Jim Potter
 #DCSOCares #DontBeAnEasyVictim #LockItOrLoseIt