Recently, a man posing as a Realtor was arrested in Colorado Springs.
Homeowners in the Front Range area kept noticing missing valuables after open houses at their residences. Once found, the man had nearly $50,000 worth of stolen jewelry in his possession.
Open House Scam in Colorado Springs
We’ve heard many stories about people with sticky fingers at open houses. Often, they act like interested home shoppers, wandering in and out of rooms looking for valuables to steal.
In this case, 37-year-old Brandon Hernandez posed as a real estate agent representing an out-of-state client. This scam was repeated at several open houses in Colorado Springs, where he often lifted high-value pieces of jewelry.
During a search of his residence, police seized about $50,000 worth of stolen jewelry. At the time of his arrest, Hernandez had approximately 13 outstanding warrants and admitted he committed the thefts to support his Fentanyl addiction.
Open House Safety
Open houses are an excellent opportunity to show new listings to interested buyers, meet new people, and prospect. They can, however, be a vulnerable situation for both the agent and the seller.
Here are a few ways to prepare for a safe open house:
- Put valuables away. Talk to sellers about removing or locking up everything of value before the open house.
- Partner up. Host the open house with another agent.
- Inspect the property before and after the open house. Go through the entire house upon arrival to see each room’s condition. Check rooms and closets, turn off lights, and lock doors before you leave.
- Have your cell phone handy. Even while greeting people and discussing the home’s features, you should always have your phone readily available.
- Listen to your instincts. If something feels off, listen to your instincts. Make a phone call or excuse yourself from behavior that doesn’t seem right.
- Talk to other agents. Be aware of how open houses are going in your area. When talking to other realtors about their open houses, take note of any patterns or schemes that come up in conversations.
Most of the time, open houses draw in exactly who they are meant to target: prospective buyers (and sometimes a nosy neighbor or two). But being prepared will always keep you – and your seller’s valuables – in the best position.