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PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – A series of Collin County home invasions could be linked through social media by attackers tracing their victims’ digital footprints.

Investigators are urging everyone to limit how much location information they reveal on their phone and in apps. The police say the crimes were not completely random, which is comforting to neighbors in Plano’s Preston Villages subdivision where the first known attack happened.

When Greg Judah came home to find police up and down Bloomfield Court last month, he was shocked to hear his neighbor was the victim of a home invasion.

“He was beat and tied up, dragged up the stairs at gunpoint, and then they proceeded to take all of his electronics… they even took like stupid stuff, underwear,” Judah said.

Since then investigators discovered similar home invasions at a north Plano neighborhood and a Frisco apartment complex have a number of things in common.

“These individuals, we believe are entering into homes knowing that the residence is occupied, and that raises our level of concern quite a bit,” Plano Police Officer David Tilley said.

Investigators said all the victims were using social media platforms like a dating or e-commerce app to meet people. The suspects may have used the victims’ GPS data on their phones to track them. Thus, police are urging everyone to check the location access in their settings.

“We recommend that at the very, very least you turn it to while you’re using it, but otherwise have it set to never,” Tilley said.

Judah said he already limits the location access on his phone, but he insisted that’s no substitute for keeping doors locked and other home defense.

“Keep protection in your house. He has a big dog, but the dog was… whatever happened the dog was not able to help,” Judah said, “Best you can do is be alert, and protect yourself the best you can.”

Police said they’re still not sure how the suspects may have accessed the victims’ location data, so they’re recommending the change in settings as a general precaution for everyone.

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