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.
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.
‘Safety Lessons That Saved My Life...’
Real estate professionals share the valuable lessons they learned after encountering unsafe situations. Learn what they did to stay safe and what you can do, too. Among the top safety concerns among real estate professionals are viewing vacant properties, hosting open houses, and showing short sale or foreclosed homes. Read more.
In the real estate business, you want to seem friendly, outgoing, and approachable in welcoming new customers and attracting prospects. But doing so could also put your safety at risk. The dangers that lurk within the real estate industry is a lesson some practitioners have learned the hard way. Read more.
8 Ways to Beef Up Your Safety Knowledge
NAR’s REALTOR® Safety Program, which was launched more than a decade ago to educate members about risks on the job, includes initiatives individual agents and brokerages can use to create safer business practices and expand your knowledge of personal security. Read more.
Use Your Sixth Sense
Your instincts are a natural gift helping keep you safe from harm while you go about your daily routine. One of the greatest disadvantages of practitioners is their tendency to put their faith, trust, and sense of security in places. Read more.
How to Find the Right Safety Trainer
Whenever there’s news of a crime against an agent, the real estate industry becomes inundated by “safety experts.” Suddenly, many speakers pop up on the scene, presenting themselves as real estate safety trainers. But can you rely on the quality of their content? Read more.
Should Agents Wear Body Cams?
One REALTOR® association has launched an effort to encourage its members to use the wearable tool to improve personal safety. But it’s questionable how these devices—originally intended for the law enforcement community—could be applied across the real estate industry. Read more.
“The 911 Caller Couldn’t Talk. Then Came a Voice in the Background: ‘Where Is the Money?’” The Washington Post (Dec. 7, 2018)
Updated: May 29, 2020