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

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Crime, Police + Courts

little cottonwood canyon pictured, avalanche risk there is high...
Devin Oldroyd

Backcountry skier dead after fatal fall in Little Cottonwood Canyon

A backcountry skier is dead after "tumbling a significant distance," according to the Unified Police Department. The incident occurred near Lisa Falls.
23 hours ago
SLCPD cruiser...
Chandler Holt

SLCPD officer witnesses wrong-way drunk driver crash into embankment

At around 6:30 a.m. Sunday morning, an SLCPD officer witnessed a 2009 black Ford F-150 traveling at a high rate of speed in the wrong lane. 
23 hours ago
This photo purports to show the suspected Chinese balloon flying over Mills River, North Carolina, ...
Heather Chen and Wayne Chang, CNN

China says it ‘reserves the right’ to deal with ‘similar situations’ after US shoot down suspected spy balloon

China says it "reserves the right" to deal with "similar situations" following the United States' decision to shoot down its high-altitude balloon.
23 hours ago
The Goonies House...
Taylor Romine and Ralph Ellis, CNN

Man wanted for leaving a dead fish at ‘The Goonies’ house saved by Coast Guard in daring rescue

A man wanted by police in an incident at a house featured in "The Goonies" was the subject of a Coast Guard rescue when he was tossed from a stolen boat as it capsized, authorities said.
2 days ago
SLCPD said the driver is fully cooperating with the investigation and the children received non-lif...
Chandler Holt

SLCPD makes arrest connected to fatal stabbing case

SLCPD announced the arrest of 26-year-old Ivy Chase Grant today. Grant was booked into Salt Lake County Metro Jail on a charge of obstruction of justice. 
2 days ago
Salt Lake City Police say three sticks of dynamite were safely removed from a house this week by it...
Mark Jones

Three sticks of dynamite removed from Salt Lake City home

Three sticks of dynamite were removed from a Salt Lake City home on Wednesday, the SLCPD announced. The dynamite have been seized for investigation.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
OPINION: How Instagram is helping burglars break into your home