It is the festive season and many people have packed their bags and taken a well-deserved vacation, some to their rural homes and others down at the coast among other destinations.
I hope that, like me, you are enjoying your holiday right now. But I can bet that, just like me, you will not be completely unplugging from social media.
You may be sipping a cocktail, feeling safe behind the screen of your smartphone. But what if I told you that a simple click, a simple photo posted on WhatsApp status, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram could be inviting criminals into your house.
The festive season brings with it a lot of excitement, long breaks away from work, family gatherings and vacations to various destinations to unwind after a long rather stressful year.
According to SGA Security Chief Executive Julius Delahaije, the online ‘friends’ could turn out to be burglars scouting for evidence and clues of one’s whereabouts with their whole family.
These clues help them conclude that a home will remain unoccupied for a particular period of time, based on one’s daily posts on their social media platforms.
“Burglars tend to plan most home break-ins in advance. They look out for clues to ‘sweep’ the house clean, targeting the valuable goods when a house is unoccupied. In most cases, they target their victims remotely through social media channels,” said Delahaije.
While online signs are not the only targets, burglars also cruise through neighbourhoods for offline clues such as locked doors, windows, drawn curtains, absence of cars, little or no movements in a house or compound.
“Let us all remain vigilant throughout the festive season. If possible, assign someone to keep checking the house or business property while away,” he advised.
He said that one should keep the location undisclosed as most social media posts tag locations and photos while on the go, suggesting a step by step movement, such as “at the airport, “travelling to Malindi”, “having fun at this hotel” this gives clues for easy targets by thieves.
His advice is for one to take time to familiarise with privacy settings and features on all social media accounts and divulging location to only audiences chosen by you and not the public.
Delahaije reiterated the need to be vigilant while shopping in malls, at parking lots and implementing the ‘Nyumba Kumi’ initiative where neighbours look out for each other and their properties.
With the Covid-19 protocols to maintain social distancing, it is easy to notice anyone trying to get closer thus staying alert is important as those getting closer could be reaching to snatch a mobile phone, handbag, laptop bags, expensive jewelries and cars.
“Threat actors are all over looking for targets. I would also advise making use of technology such as use of CCTV cameras at homes and businesses that one can monitor through an internet-enabled phone or computer from anywhere,” he added.
Other measures to beef up security include investing in smart door locks, deploying security guards and guard dogs that keep your house and neighbourhood occupied in your absence.
Mr Delahaije was speaking a day after Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai announced deployment of security officers countrywide to beef up security during the festivities.