TIM DREW: Be mindful of tech-savvy criminals while away

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AS WE near the date when the clocks go back, it’s worth remembering that household thefts increase by five per cent in the week following – and that, especially if you are planning to be away from home, burglary is certainly not always a matter of opportunistic theft.

To burglars, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are a godsend when it comes to spying on potental victims, and they are also hacking into smartphone apps that track personal movements and share information.

When they know that nobody will be coming home within the next few hours, they will be more likely to cause damage to the targeted property as they seek to gain access and, if successful, to spend longer there and steal goods to a higher value than would be stolen in the course of a typical opportunistic theft.

Security experts such as Symantec have, therefore, warned against uploading any photos on the internet while abroad, and people are advised to turn GPS tracking off on mobile devices before going away.

It is important to check that personal details and passwords are encrypted and that only websites that have a ‘https’ (hypertext transfer protocol secure) internet link be used when you need transactions to be secure, rather than the less secure ‘http’ network communication – and to warn any friends, with whom you may be holidaying not to post anything about your upcoming or current plans until you’re back home.

• PCSO Graeme Foster hosts his surgery at The Range car park in Pages Lane, East Worthing, on Tuesday, September 30, between 5.30pm and 6.30pm.

It will be followed directly afterwards by the Selden Ward Neighbourhood Panel meeting, between 6.30pm and 7.30pm, at the East Worthing Community Centre, also in Pages Lane, East Worthing.

The Central Ward Neighbourhood Panel will meet on Thursday, October 2, at 6.30 pm, at the Ardington Hotel, in Steyne Gardens, Worthing, when recent incidents involving anti-social behaviour will be discussed.