When I was little, one of the last things my dad would do before we went on our holidays (after packing his 10 different daily vitamins but before we started singing “Eviva Espana” with the words changed to reflect that year’s destination) was to write addresses on all of our luggage tags.
But he would never write our home address, instead putting the details of his office. That way, no sharped-eyed burglar or check-in clerk with criminal tendencies would be able to ascertain that we were off to Minorca for a fortnight and ransack our home.
Speaking of fools, I can’t imagine my dad suffering gladly the celebrities who broadcast their holiday plans on social media. That’s partly because about the only person he follows on Twitter is Caitlin Moran – AKA the journalist daughter he wishes he had – but if he had read Jessie J’s recent tweets, including, “Wow what an amazing welcome to Malta at the airport! It’s so beautiful and hot and my heartbeats here”, he’d point out that this was like putting out a welcome mat and a refreshing drink for the burglars.
Which is essentially what jungle failure and tabloid favourite Helen Flanagan did last month when she announced online that she was home alone, only to be locked in a utility room by armed intruders who relieved her of a number of belongings.
It’s timely, then, that on Friday, the film The Bling Ring was released. It tells the story of a gang of light-fingered teens who used celebrities’ status updates to track their whereabouts and find out when the coast was clear to break into their homes and trouser their tchotchkes. Paris Hilton, one of the gang’s victims, played herself in the movie. I suppose for her, this cloud did have a silver lining.
As the summer holidays approach, we can all learn something from this. Blabbing your movements in minute detail online is a bit daft. Mark Shaw of security firm ADT certainly thinks so.
“Criminals are waking up to the fact that famous social-media users are making themselves easy targets,” he says.
And, as my dad knew way back in the Eighties, in that innocent time before social media, broadcasting personal deets gives the baddies a chance to strike.
“The warnings to the rich and famous apply just as much to ordinary people who might be putting too much personal information on social networking sites,” says Mr Shaw.
So whether you’re a civilian or a star, leave the boasting to postcards and have a holiday from Twitter if you want a safe summer.