If you post it to Facebook or to another social networking site, they will read it.
Burglars that is.
There was a story last week on WMUR Channel 9 television news in Manchester, New Hampshire about the arrests of three burglary suspects who are accused of breaking into at least 18 and maybe up to 50 homes in the city of Nashua, New Hampshire in the past few months and got away with - at least temporarily - an estimated $200,000 in stolen property.
The alleged burglars recently got caught because one them set off firecrackers in a garage that matched a type recently reported stolen.
As a Nashua police spokesperson explained:
"The burglary unit advised all the officers within the department that there was a large amount of fireworks that were stolen, and if they heard any fireworks going off or come across anyone in possession of a large amount of fireworks to be suspicious and investigate."
An off-duty policeman heard the firecrackers and investigated, which eventually led to the three suspects being arrested.
The success of the trio, the police said, was in large part because they hit homes that were known to be empty.
How did they know that?
Because the owners told them so via postings on Facebook and other social networks that the trio allegedly monitored.
In a bit of an understatement, the police spokesperson said, "Be careful of what you post on these social networking sites," as criminals are known to read them.
The police also suspect there are more than just the three they arrested who are involved in the thefts.
A Consumer Unionsurvey earlier year found that more than half of adult users of social networking sites admit to posting information that could be of value to criminals.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.