Jeff Pearl Homes AR Blog: Burglar Poses as Homebuyer in Northern VA

Burglar Poses as Homebuyer in Northern VA

 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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Comment balloon 11 commentsJeff Pearl • March 10 2016 07:52PM


Jeff, this is very disturbing, I am very careful when showing property or having an open house.

Posted by Sybil Campbell, Referral Agent Amelia Island Florida almost 5 years ago

I've had a run in with buyer clients with one of these guys. Terrible that people take advantage like this.

Posted by Lisa Wiseman (Intero Real Estate Services, San Jose, Silicon Valley) almost 5 years ago

Jeff, this is why it's important for buyers to lock up valuables when the house is for sale.  

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

A great reminder about the necessity to secure valuables when your home is for sale. I live in Gainesville and have been following this story! 

Posted by Chrissi Chapman Topoleski, HOME~There is no place like it! (Coldwell Banker Realty) almost 5 years ago

#1- Hi Sybil, I know, always be careful these days.

#2- Hi Lisa, Some thieves are good at blending in. I wonder how much more this guy stole?

#3- Hi Patricia, So true. i think many owners just don't take that seriously enough.

#4- Hi Chrissi, True. I would bet there are many more out there just like this man.

Posted by Jeff Pearl, Full Service Full Time Realtor (RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA) almost 5 years ago's so important that valuables not be left laying around during showings or an Open House.  

Posted by Roger D. Mucci, Lets shake things up at your home today! (Shaken...with a Twist 216.633.2092) almost 5 years ago

Good morning Jeff. I was robbed at an open house and it was the one I ever did. I was one of many hit that day and the people were eventually caught but not for me.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) almost 5 years ago

#6- Hi Roger, Yes, Very important.

#7- Hi Sheila, Scary. Glad you weren't hurt. I'm less and less a fan of open houses.

Posted by Jeff Pearl, Full Service Full Time Realtor (RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA) almost 5 years ago

As a firm believer that the majority of people are good, and have good intentions, I do believe that there are -- as there always has been -- opportunists. And these "opportunists" are getting more emboldened, rather than less.  Open Houses seem to be a crime of opportunity.   

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) almost 5 years ago

#9- Hi Carla, Most are, but the "opportunists" do seem to be increasing. We can never let our guard down.

Posted by Jeff Pearl, Full Service Full Time Realtor (RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA) almost 5 years ago

This is exactly why my husband, retired law enforcement, goes with me and helps when I sponsor or cater an open house Jeff Pearl .   He can spot them a mile away.   He'll even turn on his police radio to let suspicious characters know he is close at hand.   He will then hang close by them and given his size and demeanor when he's on his game, trouble usually leaves quickly and empty handed.   Problem solved !   

Posted by DEANNA C. SMITH CERTIFIED MOBILE NOTARY, Highest Ranked Certified Mobile Notary in Virginia (Certified Mobile Notary Signing Agent) almost 5 years ago