OPINION: How Instagram is helping burglars break into your home

Oct 3, 2018, 2:19 PM
Four celebrity burglary victims targeted by a gang that used social media to plan their break-ins. ...
Four celebrity burglary victims targeted by a gang that used social media to plan their break-ins. From left to right: Rihanna, Christina Milian, Yasiel Puig, and Robert Woods. (AP File Photos)
(AP File Photos)


A story out of L.A. this week has got me afraid to post anything on Instagram anymore. On Friday, four burglars were arrested for breaking into celebrity homes, and they used social media to do it.

Here’s how it works.

These thieves would check celebrity social media accounts to figure out who was on vacation, on tour, or playing a big game out of town. If your Instagram said you weren’t home, they’d gently rap on your door to make sure no one was there. And then they’d smash in your windows, grab everything that wasn’t bolted down, and make a break for it before the cops showed up.

They got away with some huge hauls doing this. In one break-in, singer Alanis Morissette lost about $2 million in jewelry and valuables, and in another, NBA player Nick Young lost about $500,000.

And all because they just had to put those vacation beach pictures on Instagram.

To burglars, Instagram can be an open invitation

Los Angeles Police show some of the items recovered after the arrests of four people police say targeted celebrity homes for burglary at a news conference in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018. (Los Angeles Police Department via AP)

I get that this is a terrible thing that happened, but I can’t help feeling a little bit happy about this news. Because this is a great, big, juicy opportunity for me to say: “I told you so!”

Not everything you do needs to go on social media, people!

I have been doing stories about this on and off on KSL 5 TV for years, and I really couldn’t help feeling a little bit vindicated when this story came out. Because this is proof that – 100% — this kind of thing happens.

When you take photos on vacation, do not post them on Instagram until you get home!

You never know who is looking at your social media account. In this case, the burglars were actually breaking into houses with one of their moms! Police say that 34-year-old Ashle Hall was accompanying her 18-year-old son as he smashed into people’s homes and stole their valuables.

More common than you think

Two of the four suspects in the string of celebrity robberies. (LAPD / CNN)

These burglars hit celebrities. They broke into the homes of Rihanna, Christina Milian, the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig, and the Rams’ Robert Woods – but you don’t have to be a celebrity to fall for a scam like this one.

78 percent of burglars have used social media to decide which homes to break into, according to a survey of ex-cons done in the UK.

It’s hard to read a statistic like that and not feel a little bit vulnerable. Burglars, just like everyone else, are catching up with the times, and with the modern world come whole new ways to get away with robbery.

I don’t want everyone to live in fear – but it doesn’t hurt to take a few basic precautions. In about 53 percent of the burglaries in Utah last year, the burglars didn’t even have to break in. All they had to do was turn the knob on the door and it swung open.

Locking your door before you go on vacation is one of those little things that just keep you safer. And we ought to start seeing Instagram the same way.

To the wrong person, your Instagram vacation pictures just might look like an open invitation.

More to the story

My co-host Dave Noriega and I talked about this on KSL Newsradio’s Dave & Dujanovic show. If you missed it, you can still hear everything we had to say on our podcast:

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

Listen on Apple PodcastsListen on Google Play Music

Today’s Top Stories

Dave & Dujanovic

Anastasiya Sayer, 11, joins others in rallying against the war in Ukraine at the Capitol in Salt La...
Curt Gresseth

Through donations, Ukrainian woman in Idaho seeks to ease suffering of war

The war in Ukraine may have faded from the daily news but a Ukrainian-born woman now in Idaho is dedicated to collecting and sending supplies to meet the needs of suffering Ukrainians.
2 days ago
FILE - This Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, file photo shows application icons from left, Facebook, Facebook...
Curt Gresseth

Expert gives tips on conquering your downward social media scroll

Are you addicted to the social-media scroll? An expert weighs in on what you can do to slow the scroll.
8 days ago
High water in the Gardiner River along the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park in Montana, ...
Curt Gresseth

Be ready for flash flooding: Expert shares advice

An expert with the Utah Division of Emergency Management shares his expertise and crucial tips on how to be ready for flash flooding when you are in a vehicle or at home.
9 days ago
salt lake mayorMendenhall guns...
Curt Gresseth

After NY law is struck down, two Utah experts sound off on gun rights

Two advocates on either side of the gun-control vs. gun rights debate sound off on the Supreme Court's 6-3 ruling to expand the right to carry a firearm in public.
14 days ago
Salt Lake County Search and Rescue safely rescued a hiker  out of the Lisa Falls trail on Friday.
Curt Gresseth

Search and rescue expert has tips for hikers

Before you head out on your hike, take someone with you, tell somebody where you are going and when you plan to return. Those are just a few words for hikers from an expert on search and rescue.
15 days ago
A fire engine is seen as the Sheep fire burns in Wrightwood, Calif., Monday, June 13, 2022. (AP Pho...
Curt Gresseth

Be Ready Utah: What to do when wildfires close in on your home

Will you be ready if wildfires close in on your home? A survivor of a wildfire shares his experience and an expert shares tips and advice.
16 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
OPINION: How Instagram is helping burglars break into your home