‘Watch what you post’

BURGLARS and thieves have become more resourceful in the digital age, prompting the Morwell Police Station officer-in-charge to remind social media users to be careful of what they post online, especially leading into the holiday season.

Senior Sergeant Howard Jones was commenting on a recent study of crime statistics by RACV which showed Morwell was tied with Shepparton as the fourth town in regional Victoria most likely to have had a residential burglary committed. The analysis of the 2011/12 Victorian crime statistics found one in 42 homes in Morwell had been burgled.

“(People posting their whereabouts) is a big concern; (potential offenders) are very resourceful now and use things like Facebook to identify when people are away, or to identify specific types of property,” Snr Sgt Jones said.

“Criminals these days will go the extra mile to find what they want.”

In a statement, RACV general manager home services Peter Brindley said burglars often trawled social networking sites to source information to help them identify targets.

“Details of addresses, daily routines, holiday plans and recent purchases all can be used by a keen thief to plan a burglary,” Mr Brindley said.

He said the rate of burglaries in regional Victoria had risen by seven per cent in the past year, with an average one in 86 homes burgled.

“Overall, burglaries were the highest in five years with the increase most pronounced in regional Victoria, which experienced a 14 per cent jump over the five-year period,” he said.

Corio/Norlane topped the RACV’s list, with a burglary rate of one in every 37 homes.

While he could not comment specifically on why the home break-in rates were higher in Morwell compared to other Latrobe Valley towns, Snr Sgt Jones acknowledged the police had been aware of a rise in burglaries in the town over the past six months.

“We have been working very hard to address the rise, and have had some success there; we had an increase in the number of detectives and general duties police,” he said.

“We have also been sending crime scene units to all burglary scenes and had successes in arrests for burglaries and number of people incarcerated, and we expect this to increase in the future.”

Coming into the warmer months, Snr Sgt Jones acknowledged burglary rates tended to trend upwards as people left windows open to let cooler breezes in.

“Gone are the days when you could leave windows open and hope people wouldn’t break in; while you are safe most of the time, you have to do everything you can to protect your (home),” he said.

Snr Sgt Jones reminded people to lock their premises if they were going away, and to be watchful of suspicious persons in their area and phone police.

In advising potential holidaymakers to keep their homes “less tempting to potential thieves”, he urged people to secure their homes and give the impression someone was present.

“Fill in an Absence from Premises form at your local police station, get your neighbours to keep an eye on the house, cancel your newspaper and other deliveries, and get timers to switch things on and off,” Snr Sgt Jones said.

“When you are at home, be careful of whom you open the door to.”

Meanwhile, The Express’ readers of Facebook also weighed in on the subject, with one reader saying she would not post her security measures online.

Traralgon resident Axella Johanesson also advised against posting holiday snaps while on holiday as it served as an indicator people’s houses were unoccupied.