Top tips for protecting your home, from an ex-burglar


Top tips for protecting your home, from an ex-burglar

Who do you really want to share that piece of good news with? Your shiny new car, say, or your swanky seaside holiday. Your mum? Your best mate? All the neighbourhood burglars?

That’s what lots of us are doing, according to Tony Gooch. And he should know. Because, in his own words: “I used to burgle homes for a living.”

Today, Tony’s nine-to-five has been transformed. He spends his time helping young people to turn their lives around and steer clear of crime. Still, he knows the tricks of the trade, and many of them involve your social media. An estimated 78% of burglars use social media to establish their target and time their actions. It seems to be working. According to the Office of National Statistics, burglaries rose 4% in the year 2022 to 2023—that’s an extra 10,000 homes.

No need to panic, though. “What you can do is make it a lot less likely for a criminal to target your property,” explains Tony. Let’s follow his insider hacks below.

“Think before you post”


Roughly one in 12 Brits is estimated to have been burgled because of social media posting trends. Tony knows this all too well: “people have done innocent posts on social media, not knowing that the information has just aided in them being a target.”

The average person spends two hours and 40 minutes on social media every day. All those stories, photos and updates paint a pretty picture of your life, location and a burglar’s potential loot. Just got the keys to your new house? Videos tagged #newhome have been watched over 5.7 billion times on TikTok—but by who? A burglar can use that cute snap of your front door key to get a copy cut, or piece together the details in shot (a door number, say) to figure out where you live.

People have done innocent posts on social media, not knowing that [it] has just [made] them a target

Tony Gooch Ex-burglar

The same goes for details you share inside your home. Nearly 18 million #renovation posts have been added on Instagram. Some of these tours are like instructional videos for burglars, tutoring them in the home’s layout and where all the high value goods are. Even if you’re not posting pics of your possessions, think about what’s in the background, says Tony: “You’re filming your baby’s first steps, on the stairs, right next to your car keys. Now I know where they are.”

And it’s not only burglary you risk. You could invalidate your insurance too. The small print of your policy may well include a responsibility to take “reasonable care” of your property. It’s a grey area, but posting the exact location of loot to the public could—potentially—put you in breach.

“Why would you tell a burglar if you’re on holiday?”


Have you even been away if you haven’t spammed social media with images of your hot dog legs? It’s worth remembering, though, that each one broadcasts your movements to the world—not just your friends.

“It's a good idea not to post while you’re away as it lets potential burglars know your home is unoccupied,” points out Tony. So, wait until you’re back home before posting those poolside pics.

Holidays aren’t the only posts that are potentially useful to your local housebreaker. On TikTok #morningroutine videos have been watched over 25 billion times. But do you really want the world to know that you’re always out doing the school run from 8-9am?

Geo-tagging and location tagging have helped the trade too—allowing burglars to establish how far you are from home, and how long it will take you to get back. Sharing data on cycling apps has even been linked to bike thefts.

Public settings can display the start and end of your rides to the general public and so, potentially, the place your precious new bike is stored.

“Tech has made burglars smarter. You need to be even smarter to protect your home.”


Got an alarm visible on the front of the house? CCTV? No tall conifers to hide behind? “All of these things will make your home less attractive to a burglar,” says Tony. Then: “the only time they’ll target your home specifically is if they’re actually going in for something they’ve seen on social media, or they’ve got information on something, and they know it’s there.”

Other less obvious things can make the outside of your house a target, though, says Tony. For instance: does your post sometimes get jammed, halfway in and visible from the street? If the latter, a canny burglar will pull it out, note down your details, then scope you out on social media to see if you have anything worth nicking. Beyond a better letterbox, what tech really strike fears into the heart of a burglar?

“Video doorbells are brilliant, in theory,” says Tony, “but the best security you can have for your front door is a video camera that’s up high, and out of reach.” What sort of security system does he recommend? “Twenty-four-hour monitoring is a great idea,” he thinks, since: “it goes straight to the police... If you haven’t got these features, all you’re going to do is view someone breaking into your home.” EE Smart Home Security, powered by Verisure uses wireless technology and home broadband to connect itself to your mobile and other services such as alarm monitoring. It’s also connected to a team of specialists, who respond to emergencies round the clock and within 60 seconds.

There’s no reason you can’t share your fun, your news and even (not that you would of course) brag about your holidays, home and swag on social media. All the major platforms have easy-to-use settings that make it simpler than ever to protect your privacy, and good home security makes it just as straight-forward to protect your home.  In fact, take Tony’s advice and “you can rest assured that you and your family are safe in your home,” he says. “Your property will become less attractive to potential burglars, and they will move on to an easier target.”


    Tony’s ten top tips for keeping your home safe:

  1. Turn off your live location settings on social media, so that unwanted eyes are unaware of your current location
  2. Make better use of your privacy settings—so only trusted people see your Instabrags.
  3. Don’t leave a trail of clues about your location (even children’s school uniforms can point to catchment areas).
  4. Check what’s visible in the background of your posts, and whether you want that to be public knowledge.
  5. Think before accepting friend requests from strangers.
  6. Using a fitness app like Strava? Tweak your privacy settings so that the start and end of your ride or run is hidden on activity maps to all except those you’ve granted permission to.
  7. Motion sensors are a good home-security investment, immediately shining a light on anyone creeping around outside your home.
  8. Remember that burglars might try posing as delivery drivers, so ask for ID before letting them in (genuine callers won’t object).
  9. Arrange for parcels to be left with a neighbour to avoid doorstep theft or use an off-site locker service.
  10. Smart home security doesn't have to break the bank. EE offers packages with Europe’s #1 security provider, Verisure from £25 per month.


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