A maintenance worker has been arrested in Fullerton, California and charged with 33 burglaries, all involving women he tracked using the photo-based social media app Instagram. Arturo Galvan allegedly targeted Chapman University and Cal State Fullerton students, and is accused of stealing over $256,000 worth electronics, jewelry, and clothing, including underwear from some of the women's sorority houses.
So how did Galvan identify his burglary victims and find out where they lived? And what can you do to protect yourself?
According to law enforcement, Galvan would see women at a coffee shop, mall, or at their jobs, and then see if she had geotagged the location in any Instagram photos. Galvan could then find out where the women lived, if they had also geotagged photos of their home.
From there, police say Galvan entered the bedrooms of students at nearby Chapman University and Cal State Fullerton, and stole laptops, iPads, jewelry, movies, and even underwear. Galvan was finally arrested after someone reported a suspicious person peeping through an off-campus bedroom window. Police found nearly a quarter of million dollars in stolen items in his garage.
So how do you make sure someone isn't tracking you on social media? The first step is to keep your Instagram account private -- that way only people you approve can see your photos, and when and where they were taken. You should also reconsider geotagging photos so other users can't use your pics to determine where you are and where you live.
Social media encourages us to share as much information as possible. (Spoiler alert: this is so they can sell that information to advertisers.) And we are social creatures by nature, so we have an impulse to share. But when it comes to Instagram, you might want to be careful about how much you share, and with whom.