Burglars targeting UK homes with Google Maps trick giving ‘free intelligence to criminals’

Burglary: Met Police gives advice to protect your home

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Homeowners looking to sell their property are a particularly attractive target for burglars as online listings show floor plans and intelligence on where valuables are kept within the building. Glenn Amato, general manager at security company ADT, told Express.co.uk that burglars are attempting new methods when “looking for their next victims” including using Google Maps and online listing sites.

By using certain sites, homeowners who plan to sell their homes could unintentionally be “providing free intelligence to potential criminals”, according to Divert.co.uk’s Mark Hall.

He said: “Criminals are using simple online tools to help them get inside your house”.

This includes “floor plans and photos on estate agency websites”, which are giving thieves “an advantage” and could cost sellers dearly.

Mr Hall told Express.co.uk: “Everything that a burglar needs to know is on those websites.

“Everybody is looking for a quick house sale, and that means signing up for all the gimmicks that estate agents offer.

“That means a floor plan, multiple interior and exterior photos, and – in some cases – walk-through videos and virtual 3D house tours.

“While it’s all a great selling point, it’s also providing free intelligence to potential criminals.”

The security expert warns that floor plans allow burglars to work out where to go in the property once they’ve gained access.

Photos can also show where all the luxury goods and valuables might be in the house and videos let them see where they could potentially be spotted from the street.

Mr Hall, who was told by former burglars that they used these tricks, added: “All this gives the burglar time to plan their crime.

“And coupled with Google Street View, they’ve probably already got a good idea of access points and CCTV blind spots”.

The internet affords many resources for burglars, with social media being another tool that can be utilised by thieves.

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Mr Amato said: “It’s important to remember that social networks are not as private as we like to think, and you never know who will be alerted to what and who is in your home. Making sure accounts in which your home is on show is only accessible to your circle of trust could save you a break-in.”

With burglars becoming savvier, the expert advises insisting selling sites only include the bare minimum of internal and external photographs on their sites.

He also advises not to include a floor plan, and turn down the opportunity for walk-through videos and guided tours.

The security expert also warned against including close-up photos of valuable items and advised the seller to ask the agency not to include any household security features such as sensors, CCTV, and locks in images.

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