In a survey undertaken by the insurance company More Than, it was found that many burglars carried out a considerable amount of research before attempting to steal from someone’s home. The information from the survey was collected by consulting with 50 reformed criminals.

Richard Taylor, a former burglar who is now a Methodist minister, said: In the old days you could buy information from a postman or from a milkman, about who was away on holiday. Now people are online giving you updates about going to the airport, about sipping their coffee, about everything.

I always say that on Facebook it says you have 900 friends. You don’t really. You have one friend and 899 nosy people who vaguely know you.

Pete Markey, a spokesman for More Than, said: The research suggests that burglars still use tried and tested methods when it comes to breaking in to properties but that they’re keeping up with the times too.

Using Facebook or Twitter to boast about a big night out or a fortnight in Barbados may impress friends and colleagues, but it’s enough to give the social-media savvy burglar all they need to know.

The survey found that 68% of those questioned said they collected information about their target’s home and routine in advance of committing a crime, with 12% turning to sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare to pinpoint the whereabouts of a target and establish how long they would absent from home.

While nosey neighbours made little difference to the ex-burglars’ plans, an alarm, followed by a dog or CCTV were identified as the biggest deterrents. The research highlights the need to be a bit more careful about what you post to your social network because you don’t want to advertise your home to burglars. A home burglar alarm system is also an important deterrent and one that should be considered if you plan to leave your home for any period of time, to go on holiday for example.