PleaseRobMe.com Fears are Totally Unfounded
You know what I hate? I hate scaremongering. I hate people who prey on other's worries and insecurities to foster an unhealthy distrust of the world.
So, yes, I pretty much hate Please Rob Me.
For those who haven't heard of the site yet, it pulls Foursquare check-ins from the public Twitter search page and collects them under the heading "Recent Empty Homes," listing the number of "new opportunities" for would-be burglars.
The site changes the text of the check-in to read "@yourname left home and checked in" before listing their Foursquare location.
This site makes a lot of bold assumptions. And a lot of pretty dumb ones too.
First, they assume you can actually find the em>supposedly empty homes (more on that in a minute) of these "new opportunities." In the case of anonymous Twitter users, you'd have to do some pretty heavy (in some cases, probably nearly impossible) detective work to actually find where these people lived. Many people are not identifiable from their Twitter username on Twitter, and even if you could determine their first and last name, that doesn't necessarily lead you to their home address.
Second, the premise of the site is based on the idea that these people are actually leaving their homes empty. If my girlfriend leaves home, does that mean the house is empty? Well, no, not if I'm still here. And I will be very angry if some shockingly internet-savvy burglar tries to break in to the apartment while I'm sitting around drinking 'Gansett in my underwear. (Because, really, what else is there to do when you're home alone?)
Finally, they assume that burglars are actually using the internet to find their next victims. This really is not the case. An intrepid blogger from Texas asked a friend in the Austin Police Department about this, who replied, "Most crooks will not surf the web to find a target. Most crooks simply pick a neighborhood, and in most cases randomly pick a house/target."Continued on the next page