By Attorney Mitch Adel
A few summers ago I was speaking a workshop for retired teachers, prior to my presentation on retirement and long term care planning, a woman spoke about the dangers of a GPS. I had never really given this much thought until recently. This past week I was scheduled to give a seminar for a group of seniors at a community center/fitness facility. As I was walking from my car to the facility, I remembered that I had left my GPS on my dashboard. Not wanting to invite a potential break-in, I went back and removed it. On my way back to the car, I must have passed a dozen cars where people had also left their GPS devices on their dashboards. Clearly, one danger in leaving your GPS in plain view is that you welcome people to break-in and steal your device. But as the speaker a few years ago taught me, that is not the biggest worry.
The woman at the seminar told the story of how homes were being broken into and the connection between the burglaries was that the thief would break into a car, steal the GPS and rob the house. If you are having trouble seeing the connection, think about this:
When most people purchase a GPS, the directions ask that the first thing you do is program in your home address and label it “HOME”. So if someone has your GPS, they know where you live, couple that with how convenient it is that the device will show them the FASTEST way there. Now, lets say that you are parked at a seminar, movie, church, fitness facility, airport, ball game, visitor parking at a nursing home or assisted living, etc. There is a reasonable expectation that you will be there for a few hours. Now the thief, breaks into your car, takes the GPS, turns it on, pushes the HOME button and knows a place where you will likely not be for a few hours, add to it the time it will take for the police to show and investigate the break in of the car, all the while your home could be under attack.
I am certainly not telling people not to purchase a GPS, as I said above, I have one and love the convenience. Instead, I would ask that not only do you take measures to properly hide the device when you reach your destination, but you also remove the your personal information from the HOME button. My advice would be to enter an address in the HOME button that is not your home but that you know how to get home from, like a fast food restaurant or a grocery store.