You may not be statuesque like Audrina Patridge, dashing like Orlando Bloom or wealthy like Paris Hilton, but a moment of carelessness could put you in one unfortunate category occupied by all three: crime victim.
Patridge, Bloom and Hilton were among the celebrities who had their homes burglarized by the so-called Bling Ring, a group of fame-obsessed Hollywood teens whose crime spree inspired a film that debuted in mid-June. In some of the break-ins, the young burglars cunningly turned their victims’ use of social media against them.
The recent premiere of The Bling Ring has sparked a number of dialogues touching on everything from the empty culture of celebrity and materialism to the alleged sense of entitlement rampant among members of “Generation TMZ.”
How far will young adults go to emulate the flashy lifestyles of the stars they admire? Are famous people grateful for any kind of attention, even if it involves a visit from police detectives?
As a parent, you probably have little interest in wading into a sociological debate. You’re more interested in practicality — namely, finding out what steps your family can take to avoid the home security threats lurking on the Internet.
Don’t overshare on social media
The Bling Ring had a key accomplice. It has many aliases, but you probably know it as the Internet.
Some of the celebrity victims made themselves easy marks by sharing their whereabouts on social media. Even Paris Hilton, obviously not the most self-aware star in the Hollywood galaxy, has acknowledged the fact that she made herself vulnerable by constantly posting about her activities. Of course, the victims’ habit of leaving their doors unlocked also had something to do with it.
By tweeting about their plans to attend the latest blockbuster premiere or uploading Instagram photos of themselves (aka “selfies”) at a trendy new club, entertainers are effectively announcing to the online world that their homes are unoccupied. When the Bling Ring saw openings like these, they very often capitalized on them.
Even if you don’t live in a Hollywood mansion, discretion on the Internet matters. Home security experts like Chris Wiley of
Security Choice advise that famous and non-famous alike to refrain from exposing potentially compromising information on social media websites. The list of no-no’s includes:
- Making your address visible in your public profile
- Accepting “friend requests” from people you don’t know
- Announcing your vacations plans, especially when they’re accompanied by the dates you’ll be out of town
- Posting photos of all the cool (and possibly expensive) holiday gifts that you and your family exchanged.
After all, members of the Bling Ring aren’t the only suspicious characters who troll the Internet looking for information they can use. Most of these crooks would be perfectly happy to target the house of an everyday person like you.
It may not be Hollywood, but it is your home
The loot stolen by the Bling Ring has become nearly as famous as the people they stole it from. Over a period of about one year, the burglars got away with more than $3 million worth of jewelry, designer clothes, luggage, a laptop and more.
Just because your life doesn’t have the same material trappings as those of a celebrity doesn’t mean that you have less to protect — quite the contrary. Anyone with a home and a family has the desire and the obligation to protect it all. The Bling Ring may have been busted, but there are plenty of less-fashionable crooks left to contend with.