Fears of attacks in the current politically charged climate are reason enough for politicians — including Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito — to keep details of their homes off public websites, security consultants said.
The somber advice comes a day after The Boston Globe called out Polito’s husband for asking an official in their hometown of Shrewsbury to not post details of the family’s $1 million-plus lakeside home.
“Her husband tried to do the right thing to protect the family,” said Ed Davis, a former Boston police commissioner. “I really think that for people who have high risk — and someone who has her profile is certainly in that category — there should be special exemptions for someone like that to protect them.”
Polito’s husband, Stephan Rodolakis, requested that a floor plan and photos of the Tatassit Circle home not be included in an online property database “for privacy because children live in the home and because of the lieutenant governor’s public profile,” according to Polito spokeswoman Lizzy Guyton.
Rodolakis has since requested that Shrewsbury’s assessor “post all required information about the home online,” Guyton said.
But security experts stressed Polito, like other politicians, is a high-risk target. They said erasing key details of her home, like floor plans and satellite images, from online searches could help protect her family from crimes like theft — or even a hostage situation.
“Because of what’s been happening in the country lately … it just makes sense to have a higher level of security around people that are making controversial decisions, like a lieutenant governor, governor or congressperson make every day,” Davis said.
Davis said his company investigates threats on a weekly basis against public officials. Transparency “should have its limits,” he said, though public officials must remain “within the law” when privatizing their information.
Home security expert Jordan Frankel said he “absolutely recommends” his clients remove information about their homes from the web.
“I tell all my clients — whether it’s a celebrity client, CEO or politician — to typically remove all of their floor plans and all of the Google photos that are on there, because through a Google search you can see the exterior of the house, doors, windows, everything from satellite view,” Frankel said.
Floor plans and satellite images can give potential criminals all the information they need to break in, from room layouts to means of entrance and egress, Frankel said.
“Now they’re able to plan the crime in advance,” he said.
Frankel said his politician clients are “always concerned about a hostage situation where they or their children are taken hostage” whether as leverage or for financial reasons.
While removing key information from online searches can help protect families like the Politos, Frankel said it can also be a detriment to first responders in case of an emergency.
Polito, her parents and her brother Kenneth, using a trust called South Shore Realty, bought the property on the Lake Quinsigamond site, which includes a small island known locally as Plum Island, for just $360,000 in 2012, a year after the previous owner was forced to file for bankruptcy, according to records at the Worcester County Register of Deeds. The Polito family members each built their own new homes on the site.
Polito’s house was assessed at $985,000 before it was completed, but is now worth well more than $1 million, the Herald previously reported.
Records for Polito’s listed address did not appear on an online property lookup on Saturday.
Guyton said Polito’s home assessment information “has always been available at the town hall.”