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Criminals targeting homes, people through Facebook

world Updated: Dec 20, 2010 15:35 IST

When Kai Leighton was born with a life-threatening heart defect, his parents kept their kins and friends updated on Facebook for five weeks till the succesful surgery.

Hard to believe, then, that someone would take advantage of their Facebook messages not to send flowers and heartfelt congratulations, but to burgle their home safe in the knowledge that they were some 96 km away, reports the Daily Mail.

Not once, but twice. "We never dreamt for a minute that someone would read our messages, realise we weren't at home and steal from us. It was utterly devastating."

For five weeks, parents Haydn and Jamie Leigh maintained an anxious vigil at the child's bedside in Leeds, updating everybody with one message instead of making dozens of phone calls to their home town of Hull.

Haydn and Jamie aren't alone. They're among an explosion of crime victims who have been targeted through social networking sites such as Facebook.

A Daily Mail investigation revealed that over the past three years, number of crimes associated with the networking site have increased by as much as 7,000 per cent in some areas - including cases of murder, rape, paedophilia, bullying, assault and burglary.

Police, insurance companies and IT security experts are so concerned that they have issued urgent warnings to users to be more vigilant about the personal information they post on the web. But the evidence suggests that while the public isn't growing any more internet savvy, the criminals are.

In spite of the warnings, Facebook users continue to tell their 'friends' about their holiday, their party's venue, their birthday, expensive items they have bought for their homes, and just how sexy they look in their new outfit.