For years we’ve been warning folks not to share too much information on social media, since burglars and other nefarious types can use that information to their advantage, leaving you as the victim. One alarming post described a pair of burglars who used Facebook to find out when homeowners would be away, so they could rob the house with little chance of being detected – especially since the home did not have a monitored alarm system. But then again, only one in five US homes does have a system, despite rising residential crime rates in many jurisdictions.
Who Can You Trust?
Today I’ll share a story on a related topic: homeowners who were targeted after they requested a temporary hold on newspaper delivery while away. Taking a trip sounds like a normal, safe process, right? Events took an unexpected turn for some LA Times subscribers, as reported in this recent news article.
Four men have been arrested on suspicion of burglarizing the homes of Los Angeles Times subscribers while they were on vacation, authorities said. Detectives said one of the suspects got lists of subscribers who had submitted “vacation holds” to a vendor that distributes newspapers for The Times.
Who Did It, How It Happened
Duane Van Tuinen of Azusa is believed to have supplied the burglary crew with the addresses. He was arrested on Wednesday evening. He serviced machines in the distribution centers that subcontract with the Times to deliver the paper, officials said. Three other men are also behind bars: Randall Whitmore, of LaVerne; Joshua Box, of Arcadia; and Edwin Valentine, of Covina. All three men were booked on suspicion of receiving stolen property and possession of stolen property. Deputies are seeking a fifth suspect.
Long List of Victims
Officials said they have identified 25 victims, but believe there are more than 100. Most of the break-ins occurred along the 210 Freeway in eastern L.A. County and western San Bernardino County, where the thieves allegedly stole $1 million in property over the last three years. A six-month investigation led to the recovery of about $100,000 worth of personal property, including artwork, golf clubs and guitars. But investigators believe the thieves stole many more items including jewelry and collectible coins, that they later sold.
How a Burglar Thinks – and Acts
Authorities said the thieves would case the homes of the subscribers who had submitted vacation holds to make sure they were gone before they struck. In some cases, the burglars found the victims’ cars keys and took the vehicles as well, loaded up with stolen goods.
How Police Caught Them
The case turned last summer, when Glendora police pulled over one of the suspects, who had a list of addresses as well as stolen property, officials said. Detectives determined that the address belonged to Times subscribers who had stopped delivery while away on vacation. Investigators looked into whether the list was obtained by computer hacking, but eventually determined it was an inside job.
From our perspective, this story simply proves that it’s getting harder to take your home security for granted. With a burglary occurring roughly every 14 seconds in the US, demand for monitored home security is on the rise – especially now that more alarm system offer safer wireless monitoring and smarter interactive features. As the leader in wireless home security and the #1 ranked alarm company in the US, FrontPoint knows all about peace of mind: that’s our number one job, to make you feel more secure when you’re at home… or away. And remember, be careful what you share.