Builder Rep’s Murder Thrusts Safety Back Into Spotlight

December 10, 2018

The Anne Arundel County Association of REALTORS® in Maryland is weighing new safety measures for its members after a sales representative for a homebuilder was found dead inside a model home last week. Dillon Augustyniak, 18, has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the death of Steven B. Wilson, 33, a sales rep for Ryan Homes. The local REALTOR® association had alerted its members to take precautions after news of the crime, but “we have no indication that other model homes or real estate offices are going to be targeted,” Anne Arundel Police Chief Timothy J. Altomare told The Washington Post.

Small red house with heart in hands

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However, the real estate industry—which is susceptible to criminals who seek to attack people working alone—is no stranger to such tragedies. Robert Johnston, CEO of the Anne Arundel association, says it is considering adopting an available safety app for its members to use as standard business practice, among other possible measures. The app under consideration would be activated at a predetermined time, say, when a scheduled showing begins. The app will then run a countdown clock for a set period of time, and if the “all clear” button is not pushed, it would automatically contact 911, Johnston says.

Wilson had called 911 from the model home at the time of his attack, but emergency operators said they could hear only heavy breathing by someone in distress and a voice in the background asking, “Where is the money? Who are you talking to?” Johnston told the Post he thought it was peculiar that a robber would target a model home because there’s typically no cash inside.

Several smartphone apps specific to real estate safety have sprouted up to improve agents’ access to emergency personnel when showing properties to prospective buyers. More pros also have been taking self-defense training, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2018 Member Safety Report. For additional safety resources, visit nar.realtor/safety, and glean tips from REALTOR® Magazine coverage below.

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