Burglary/Theft during or after a showing?

Tony2ToesApril 2, 2013

This hasn't happened to me personally, but it did happen to a good friend of mine recently and I wondered how commonplace this may be so thought I'd post.

Have you ever had a burglary/theft occur either while your home was being shown or shortly thereafter? In my friends' case, his REA conducted an open house one Sunday afternoon. Someone that came to the OH took a set of car keys left hanging on the key board in the kitchen. This is where the REA had "set up shop" with brochures, disclosure statements, etc all lying out on the little desk in the kitchen.

On the Tuesday following the showing, someone came around in the middle of the night and simply unlocked both car doors in the driveway (they had been using their garage to store excess furnishings in anticipation of move) and drove them away. The vehicles were found stripped a couple days later and a few weeks after that the police caught one of the car thieves who turned out to be a kid (under 18) that had been given both sets of keys by another person. The car keys weren't immediately missed as they were spares.

Moral of story to me is that I need to be extra, extra careful when I'm selling my home to not leave anything 'normal' accessible. TV's and such, can't easily stash/hide those away for showings. But car keys, laptops, video game systems/game libraries, even simple mail items like bank statements, etc.....I often don't remember to pre-audit my home to ensure those are out of sight. But I guess it never occurred to me that thieves would target homes for sale as an easy, open invitation to 'case the joint' so to speak. I must be naive.

Anyone else have a bad experience like this that you can blame directly on a home showing?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mamattorney

That's awful - but very good advice. Seems like when you prepare a house for sale, you'll tuck everything away, but all it would take for a thief is for her to open the bedside table, slip your iPad into large purse and you're out an iPad.

It must happen, because one of the most recent open houses I went to made you show a picture ID when you signed in so they could make sure you weren't using an alias. That won't stop theft, but it will ensure the police know who it could have been.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 5:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rrah

No, but it happens. One of my seller instructions when I was an agent was to remove valuables for showings and open houses. This included extra keys, any prescription and some non-prescription drugs, jewelry, even valuable perfumes, small collectibles, etc. I encouraged them to remove them from the house; not just store them in a drawer.

I always did a quick walk through before open houses to collect any extra keys, medicines or jewelry left out. I left a note or a call after the open house to let the owners know why I moved the items and where they were. Common sense is important when selling a house.

The ID showing may have also been for agent safety reasons. Being alone at an isolated open house can be dangerous and agents have been killed, raped, etc during showings and open houses.

This post was edited by rrah on Tue, Apr 2, 13 at 17:21

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 5:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
frozenelves

I can't find 2 of my 16gb memory cards anywhere and I've been wondering about our open houses.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 8:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
LOTO

That is another reason I do not like open houses....you have no control of who walks in the door.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 9:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kelpmermaid

Was the house tented for termite/pest control prior to listing? That seems to be another trend.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 11:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
StPaulGal

Prior to buying my current house last summer, I was living in a rental that was on the market. A rather valuable bracelet (well, for me anyway) I had acquired in the course of my travels grew legs and walked away during one of the open houses. I had tucked all my jewelry into the back of one of my drawers, but apparently that wasn't good enough.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 12:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
nancylouise_gw

I haven't but my brother has. He was selling many years ago. He had an expensive pair of sunglasses and an everyday watch taken. He had put them away in a dresser drawer. Guess there is no place safe for your valuables if they go into your personal places. That is the main reason I don't do Open Houses. You don't know who may walk in the door and roam unescorted in your home and the RE aren't vigil enough. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 5:04AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
linda117117

This was a real problem in my area last year to the point that alot of agents stopped doing open houses. There was a team of two women, one would distract while the other searched the house. We had a a car description, (no plate as they would park far enough away and walk to the house), description of the two women, but so far they haven't been caught. In one house they got over $3000 worth of jewelry and cash that was in a jewelry box. (at least that is what the owner claims). The insurance company wouldnt cover it as it was "an open house". Their reasoning was the house was not locked when it was robbed. I try to keep people together but if you have more than one group come in at the same time,it gets difficult and if you try to lock the door and control when people come in, they can get nasty that it is supposed to be an "open house". Between that and agents being murdered during open houses, I think open houses will soon be a thing of the past.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 8:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
graywings123

When we were selling, it made sense to me to remove all valuables from the house - guns, drugs, money, jewelry. They went into the trunk of the car. I don't know whether I remembered to pick up spare keys - that's important. I

I also made a point to check all the window and door locks after showings to make sure the house was secure.

And then there are the disreputable real estate agents:

Here is a link that might be useful: Video of agent stealing women's clothing in MD

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 9:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tony2Toes

Interesting replies, thanks....although I confess I've never seen a home being tented for pest control before. But I imagine that a giant tarp over the home while its being fumigated is a dead giveaway that nobody is home and its free to pillage....

I'm hearing a couple different themes here:

-Open Houses and unescorted visitors during showings gives them the ability to rummage around and pocket valuables.

-House is 'cased' during an open house or normal showing, and then the thief returns later to burglar the residence

I do think OH's leave the seller open to loss, and I did learn via my friend that he had a HUGE fight with his insurance company to pay for the theft of his vehicles. Both were total write-offs as they were completely stripped down to the chassie. But since they were stolen with keys obtained while the home was "open" the insurance company claimed negligence on his part. To add insult to injury, he was leasing the home at the time, the OH was performed by his landlords realtor and he felt he was required to abide by his LL's request for the open house (I don't think you always are, varies by state). At any rate, took him almost 6 months to get the settlement from the insurance company, and it never was a full settlement.

Now I feel even MORE convinced that OH's or lockboxes are more risk than its worth, but there are many REA's that depend on both to help sell/market a home.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 10:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
brickeyee

Do not leave anything small of great value anywhere in the house during these events.

Take it ALL out.

Every last bit of it.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 10:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
acheavacci

We were also told to take all meds, keys, personal phone lists and lock them in our car in the garage. It looked as if we were living out of out Traverse. What I was worried about is pple looking through our drawers. You can not possible take out every single piece of clothing and hide it. I am creeped out over pple potentially going through my underwear drawer:)

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 12:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
writersblock

> But I imagine that a giant tarp over the home while its being fumigated is a dead giveaway that nobody is home and its free to pillage....

When I lived in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area, it was pretty much a given that your tenting cost included a security guard.

In this area (further north on the FL east coast) I haven't heard much about thefts during open houses, but there is a lot of theft of fixtures, copper, etc. during the time between contract and closing, and having an open house seems to raise the visibility of a property to those sorts of thieves, especially if the house isn't occupied (common in this area of seasonal residents).

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 12:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tony2Toes

When we lived in Chicago, there was a local police bulletin distributed about a pedophile that was caught with boxes of 'souvenirs' he had been keeping for his perverted use. They were at first very concerned he had many victims that hadn't yet been identified and so were notifying some neighborhoods where they had managed to identify items as belonging to certain children (monogrammed or names written on inseams I'm guessing).

It turned out that he was actively going to estate sales and Open House showings and using those as a pretense to pick up items from children's rooms to fuel his sickness. They ended up locking him up for dozens of counts of petty theft when he confessed to what he had been doing, which violated the terms of his probation.

Kids are far less likely to notice something is missing from their underwear drawer, and parents less likely to realize it either for that matter.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 1:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
camlan

Years ago, I was renting an apartment in an old house that had been converted to several apartments. The owner was selling the house.

I was there when the agent was showing around two men who were interested in buying it. The agent, one guy and I were in my bedroom. The guy started to open my dresser drawer, saying, "This is where my wife keeps her panties."

I ran over and slammed the drawer shut. He had absolutely no reason to be touching my personal property. And that he did this in front of me and the agent!

And then I heard the chime of my computer being turned on from the living room. Ran out there, and the other guy just "wanted to see what a Mac laptop was like."

By this point, I was pretty angry at the agent, who just kept shrugging her shoulders and giving a nervous laugh. I demanded the two guys stay together and that both the agent and I were with them until they left.

The next day, I got a phone call from the owner of the building, complaining that the guys might not buy the house, because I was such a bad tenant.

They eventually did buy it, and I found a new apartment and moved out the day before they took possession.

But I learned my lesson. Never assume anything is private when a building goes on sale. And don't assume the agent will protect your things, either.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 5:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tony2Toes

Cam, that's atrocious behavior!

I've had listing agents I was approaching to obtain a showing who told me that the home was being leased out but "tenants don't matter so we can just drop in whenever its convenient for you!"

I think some listing agents view selling the home to be their only legal and business obligation, so ethics and common manners just get thrown out the window in pursuit of those objectives. Personally, when the listing agent would say those things to me I've walked from the property.

I met one at a home once only to discover that the driveway was filled with cars and to see a giant 'bouncy house' in the backyard....clearly the tenants were celebrating a childrens birthday or something. But the listing agent shrugged and said "Lets just go in, they won't mind, they are moving out end of month anyways." I would have blown a gasket if someone tried to show my home, unannounced, while I'm celebrating my child's birthday.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 6:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kelpmermaid

With fumigation, the theft doesn't necessarily take place during the tenting; after all, there is poisonous gas. Often, the pest control firm you hire contracts this work out to others and you have no idea who has been in your house doing the prep work and scoping out your possessions. One of my co-workers was burglarized a couple of weeks after termite treatment; the sheriff's department told her that there had been other similar burglaries.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 10:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
writersblock

>With fumigation, the theft doesn't necessarily take place during the tenting; after all, there is poisonous gas

They use scuba gear around here, and yes, they often get very sick in the process. As our local sheriff once remarked, "Criminals are often people who tend to have poor judgment."

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 12:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
portwest

Several years ago when my home was listed for sale, I had removed and packed away any and all identifying information: family photos, mail, bills, documents, etc. My teenaged daughter worked at a local grocery store and I had tucked her name tag in her underwear drawer beneath her underwear.

After a few showings, a couple put in an offer which I accepted. A few days later a woman in the grocery line up at the store where my daughter worked looked at her name tag and got visibly excited. "Jane! Jane! You must be the Jane who lives in the house we're buying!"

She had rifled through my daughter's dresser drawers. Creepy. (And where was the agent while this was going on?!?)

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 8:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
thisishishouse

> ...What I was worried about is pple looking through our
> drawers. You can not possible take out every single
> piece of clothing and hide it. I am creeped out over pple
> potentially going through my underwear drawer:)

> ...It turned out that he was actively going to estate sales
> and Open House showings and using those as a pretense
> to pick up items from children's rooms to fuel his sickness.

> ...buying it. The agent, one guy and I were in my bedroom.
> The guy started to open my dresser drawer, saying,
> "This is where my wife keeps her panties."

Sad to report, but this sort of thing happened to us too. Couple years ago our house spent ~9mo on market. No OHs, but we did get calls before guided showings (buyers agents, not ours.) So long on the market, we developed a system to prepare before showings, so we noticed anything out of place. Down to how far we'd leave (interior) doors partways open, the angle of books & items on tables, etc.

Finding opened closet doors I could understand. People want/need to inspect closet space. But after one showing I found my daughters top drawer (sleepwear, undergarments) cracked open an inch or so. I knew it had been closed, but couldn't be certain enough to make an accusation.

Another time we came home to find the kids toy box in the playroom opened and toys scattered about. We had our agent inquire to the showing agent, who reported that the buyers had brought their kids with them and let them play "to keep them occupied."

Next time we list, I'm thinking of investing in some hidden motion cams.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 2:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
c9pilot

Okay, I don't have any stories to add, but I do have to say that this is one of the creepiest and saddest threads that I have read in a long time.
I'm mentally prepared for valuables, jewelry, portable electronics, keys, medications, important personal papers and ID cards, but underwear? Touching your computer? Rifling through filing cabinets? What else!?!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 9:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
texas_cajun

You all have convinced me that I will never sell the house we are currently building!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 11:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tony2Toes

There's been a story floated on WFAA in the Dallas market about a couple that would get home showings. One would occupy the realtor while the other would go raid the medicine cabinet. In at least one case, they purposely switched pills from one bottle to another. Apparently the homeowner noticed the tampering but it could have had fatal consequences.

In fact if you google "open house theft" you will see that Rx theft during showings is rampant.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 10:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
nancyinmich

Rx theft is rampant, period. I have recovering addicts among family and friends, so have had to invest in a wall safe. I had it installed in the space where a medicine cabinet used to go and my carpenter put a hidden-hinged mirror in front of it. It gives peace of mind for opiates, other high-value meds, and cash. You never know what a friend of your teen, a home health aide, a cleaning person, or a construction helper might be up to! Addiction is a powerful force that leads one to do things that you would never expect from that person.

Too bad you can't put the kid's undies in it, too! Ugggh, shudder!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 1:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tony2Toes

This Florida REA was caught on video stealing from her own clients!

Here is a link that might be useful: Thieving REA video

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 9:08AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Retiree - rent or buy home
We are newly retired and have a plan to sell our current...
waterlily_girl
After months of preparation, house is now listed
This is such a big deal for us, we have been planning...
hollynla
What would you do? Stay or Remodel?
We just bought a new house. It's somewhat of a starter...
annaw_123
Panicking - please help
We built our house 2 years ago, but unfortunately we...
Butternut
Hall bathroom with claw foot tub, garden view but no shower.
We have a 4 bd, 3 bath house that I am getting ready...
gwarring
Sponsored Products
Bronze Floor Lamp: Crystal Leaf 69-3/4 in. Torchiere Floor Lamp with Side Light
Home Depot
Dog Bones Holly Holiday Stocking
The City Farm
Artcraft Lighting Marine Large Oblong White Wall Sconce
$62.00 | LuxeDecor
Leland Pink Pave Corner Square Frame
$100.00 | Horchow
MLB Texas Rangers Rectangular: 5 ft. x 8 ft. Rug
$264.95 | Bellacor
Campania International Gnome Ranger - S-440-AL
$49.99 | Hayneedle
Bone and Paw Ceramic Frames - Set of 3
$54.99 | Dot & Bo
Neptune | Taron Rain Shower Head
$315.00 | YBath
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™