Once again we are reminded of the potential problems associated with real estate agents conducting Open Houses. Even if homeowners and agents take the usual security and safety precautions, criminals can still find ways to steal and commit other crimes at Open Houses.
In this case, the burglar seemed more interested in stealing items he could convert to cash. That could indicate a drug problem, financial problems, etc. It also indicates desperation, and the efforts some criminals will go to to pull off their crimes.
Any visitor can sign in at an open house with a fake name and fake contact information. They can park a car right out front with stolen license plates, or park down the street somewhere and walk to the house, or have an accomplice drop them off and pick them up. They can also wait until 2 or more other groups of buyers arrive, and walk in right after. There is no way the agent holding the open house can watch everyone. I can hear the thief saying now " that's ok, go ahead and help them, I can wait... I'll just browse around until you are free...." So the agent goes off with the first set of buyers, as the thief starts scoping out the place for valuables and prescription meds, etc.
Suppose this thief is a desperate heroin addict that could possibly be armed? What is a lone female agent holding the open house suppose to do if she suspects the burglar was stealing while she was helping another potential buyer?
Probably the safest thing she could do would be to pretend she didn't notice anything, while at the same time be the best witness she can be. Note the mans size, hair color, tattoos, shoes, etc. After he leaves, try to take some photos, get tag # and/or description of the car, which way he went, etc. If agent is fairly sure that something is missing, call 911 and homeowners and report her suspicions.
Jeff Pearl | Lic in VA
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