Open House Thefts Putting Agents on Alert

August 24, 2017

A string of thefts in Wisconsin is serving as an important reminder for real estate pros to stay on guard during open houses. 

Wisconsin brokerages are warning their agents about three cases of thefts at open houses and a private showing in Middleton. The suspect allegedly stole laptops and other valuables during the showings.

Charlie Wills, a real estate pro with First Weber Realty, told ABC News 18 in Eau Claire, Wis., that his brokerage is releasing a publication to all of its clients that includes some security practices in the real estate market.

Some tips referenced in the publication include:

  • Conduct open house showings during daylight hours only.
  • Review the property’s condition to ensure all utilities are working.
  • Advise sellers to remove valuables or to place them in safes or other secure locations.
  • Staff open house events with additional agents if a large number of visitors is expected.

Wills also notes that the tradition of the listing agent remaining in the kitchen or another spot of the home during an open house is starting to change.

“We don't stay in one location,” Wills says. “What you do is canvass, and you walk the property and check in with people.”

Wills says that real estate pros must remain vigilant during open houses.

“I feel like most of us have that gut feeling if someone should or shouldn’t be in the house,” Wills says. A suspicious visitor should not be confronted, he says, but engaged instead. “Now, you’re trying to redirect their energy, and instantly, if they’re not very interested in buying, they’ll leave.”

In the recent Wisconsin thefts, police have identified a possible suspect, a 52-year-old Madison woman. No arrests have yet to be made.

Source: “REALTORS® on Guard After Series of Open House Thefts,” ABC News-18 (Aug. 23, 2017)