It’s something we’ve reported on before, but sadly someone else has fallen victim after having his bikes pinched. It’s a double-edged sword at times, with people wanting to challenge each other and share their achievements, but you do need to protect yourself.
Strava, the activity tracking app and website, lets you record your runs and bike rides. You can see your achievements, compare with others and share your activities online. Trouble is, that last bit can get you into a spot of bother. Strava, like many other apps, does have a feature which lets you hide the exact start and finish point, but by default this is turned off. Yes, you can set your home address and create a “private zone” which hides the exact place you live, but you have to go in and set this up.
Why are you allowed to even use the app with it possibly revealing and sharing your home address by default? Well, we think it’s wrong, but that’s the way it is.
Thus, if you share your rides to friends on Strava or via social media, everyone can see where you live and when you’re not in. It’s a burglar’s dream – especially if your rides or runs happen at regular times. They will know where your house is and when it’ll probably be empty.
Even worse, most cyclists have pretty expensive bikes, so if you share your rides and leave the default settings on, you’re telling thieves where they can steal several thousand pounds worth of kit.
This is sadly what happened to an IT Manager (yes, an IT Manager) from Manchester. Mark Leigh had two of his bikes, worth £500 and £1000, stolen and he’s convinced that the only way thieves found his secluded home was via the Strava app. He had shared his ride and revealed his home location as it was both the start and end point of his ride. Sadly, at the time, he wasn’t aware of the optional security settings that blot out certain areas.
He told the Manchester Evening News that…
They broke the garage door. They took the bikes and nothing else. There was lots of other stuff they could have taken too – tools, valuables – but they left them. This was not random.
I was not aware of security settings. The other option is to start your route a couple of hundred yards from your house so you aren’t advertising where you are.
Best advice? Configure a private zone so that you’re not advertising where you’re based and check who you’re sharing information with. It’s all too easy for people to locate you and know when you’re not in otherwise.