One family in Enderby, Leicestershire are facing an absolute nightmare – and a £3,500 bill to repair damage to their home after a party was advertised at their house on Twitter and 100 gatecrashers turned up. Whilst this underscores the power of social media, it should also send alarm bells ringing around the country! So what happened here – and how can you protect your home?
The worrying part of this story is that the party was not advertised by the 16 year old daughter of the house – and indeed by none of her friends either. However, someone issued a general invitation to her property – giving the address details – and inviting them to come along for the evening. Based on this information between 80-100 people showed up to party!
The teenager's parents were out at the time. When they returned they found food smeared around the house, wardrobes emptied and clothes strewn everywhere, an antique chair smashed and precious ornaments broken. Whilst all this was going on, the daughter and her friends were too intimidated to take any action. The home owners have since contacted the parents of those children they suspect of causing the mayhem, but just what can be done after the event?
This is not the first party to have led to disaster after having been advertised on social media. Last year a lottery winner's daughter mentioned a party on Facebook and was then horrified to find 200 gatecrashers appeared from nowhere. Perhaps the most famous example was in Haren in Holland in October 2012 when 3,000 showed up to a party advertised on Facebook – and when police intervened it led to riots and looting.
If your party is advertised on line, then your insurer may well argue that you were inviting strangers into your home and they may refuse to pay for the damage – so prevention is the only solution. In simple terms, parties must not be advertised on any social media site. Even a private invitation to friends or a casual mention of a party you are planning are not a good idea unless you want gatecrashers, simply because invitations are just too easy to forward on to everyone else. If you know someone well enough to invite them to a party, you must know them well enough to issue a personal invitation directly to them by phone or post.
If a message does leak out on line, then you don't have a choice – you must cancel the party. If you cancel the event, it is wise to inform the Police as they may well decide to be on stand-by to turn away gatecrashers before any nasty situations can arise. It is not only older children either who have caused chaos with on line invitations: last December a 14 year-old in Essex organised a party on Facebook which cause £30,000 damage to the family home. That was certainly some event!
So the message is loud and clear – don't ever mention a party on Facebook, Twitter or any of the other social media sites. Your insurance company will not be supportive if there is destruction and damage as effectively you have invited complete strangers into your home. Warn your children that to mention such matters on a social site is not acceptable (and the same goes for details when you are going to be away on holiday, etc). Monitor what is being posted to these sites and exercise caution.
If you need any advice at all regarding insurance, then give our friendly team at Westhill Insurance Services a call. We can't act as your social secretary or event organiser, but we can provide friendly and honest advice for anyone looking to insure their home and contents! Social media is a powerful tool – and this has certainly been proven by these poor people having their homes ruined, but used correctly it is a valuable and sensible method of communication. At Westhill, we believe in being as accessible as possible – so you can write, telephone, Skype or send us a message on Facebook, Twitter or even Linked-In. In the event we ever have a party, you will receive an invitation – in the post!
Contact Westhill Insurance Services, today.