While a typical home burglary is committed by an individual acting alone, there are burglary rings who have made what they do a full-time career. Moreover, these groups of criminals are adopting more sophisticated methods for targeting victims and breaking in undetected. Such is the case in California, where the Orange County Sheriff’s Department took down a rather large burglary ring in late December, 2023.

Prosecutors have charged 20 people in connection with a minimum of 34 residential burglaries that began in September 2023. The burglaries were perpetrated against homes in affluent neighborhoods, netting the criminals an estimated $500,000 in cash and stolen goods. That much is surprising enough. But more surprising is how the criminals chose their targets.

They Monitored Social Media

Authorities discussing how the criminals chose their targets mentioned several strategies, the first being social media monitoring. Apparently, the group monitored social media feeds in order to target victims who gave indications of being out of town. In other words, they looked for social media messages indicating their potential victims were on vacation, out of town for business, etc.

This is exactly why security experts constantly remind homeowners to be more vigilant about the information they post online. Modern criminals are smart enough to use social media as a targeting tool. Unfortunately, far too many people are too loose with what they post online. Their social media feeds become open invitations to burglars.

They Monitored Comings and Goings

The group’s surveillance strategies were not limited to social media. Police officials say they also monitored the comings and goings of potential victims. They looked to learn victim patterns so that they knew the best time to strike.

In addition to conducting sophisticated surveillance, the group was also smart enough to make entry through second floor balconies so as to avoid first floor security cameras and window and door sensors. Security companies assume that criminals will not attempt to enter through the second floor. But in this case, that’s exactly what burglars did.

The bad news in all of this is that the burglary ring was determined enough to get past common security protocols. The good news is that such sophisticated burglars are not the norm. They are out there, but they do not make up the vast majority of the criminals who break into homes.

Success Was a Combination of Things

It is also important to note that the burglary ring’s success was due to a combination of things. The burglars got help from victims who were careless about social media and their surroundings. They were also helped by security measures that were terribly inadequate.

What does this mean to the rest of us? It means that we can learn from this particular case. For starters, monitored home security is pretty much a no-brainer these days. Homeowners should seriously consider whole-house systems paired with around the clock monitoring from companies like Vivint Smart Home.

Next, there is an important lesson to be learned here about social media. Homeowners not looking to become victims need to be a lot more private about their social feeds. No more posting about vacations until after returning home. No more sharing location information throughout the day.

Because we do not know all the details of the California case, it is impossible to say exactly what the victims could have done to prevent the burglaries. Nonetheless, virtually all of us can do at least a couple of things to make our homes more secure.

Burglars are getting more sophisticated. We need to match that sophistication and show a lot more effort.

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