Protecting Yourself Against Open House Theft

The woman arrived at the open house about two hours into the showing when there were several other people looking at the house. She wandered through the downstairs rooms for a few minutes before approaching the realtor and explaining that she needed to use a bathroom. She asked to use the one upstairs for privacy.

Observing what appeared to be a very pregnant woman, the realtor agreed to her request. It wasn’t until later that night that the home owners discovered all their prescription medicines were missing from the medicine cabinet and several valuable collectibles had been taken from their bedroom.

A Double-Edged Sword
Open house events and home viewings are a wonderful for getting your house noticed in a big way. However, while the majority of people coming through your home are likely to be legitimate prospective buyers, there is also the risk that some of them will be more interested in what they can steal from your home than your home itself.

Open house thieves are quick to size up the flow of the crowd and opportunities to steal. Favorite targets include glassware, silverware, jewelry, laptops, and prescription drugs. Some thieves are even cagey enough to steal only a few pills instead of the whole bottle so the theft will go unnoticed.

What You Can Do
If you are planning an open house or house viewing, offers these tips for reducing the risk of theft:

Hide or remove your valuables and medications, including jewelry, collectibles and other small items a thief could easily pocket and walk off with. Do not put them in a drawer; it’s too easy for a thief to open it when no one is looking. Instead, lock them in the trunk of your car or place them in a safety deposit box.

Ask your agent to provide extra security on open house day. If your home has several floors or a complex floor plan, ask your agent to bring additional staff to man the different areas.

Put all mail away in a safe place, especially bills or anything else that has account numbers on it, including bank and financial statements, to protect against identity theft.

Remove photos or anything that might identify you or reveal too much about your lifestyle or personal wealth.

Do not leave spare keys lying around. To do otherwise is inviting a thief to gain unlimited access to your home.

When your open house is over, check your windows and doors to be sure they are locked. Thieves will frequently unlock back doors and windows to gain entry at a later time.

Finally, if an open house is part of your selling strategy, it is important that you discuss your security concerns with your agent and ask what precautions will be taken. Such a conversation will help ensure that security is on your agent’s mind as well as yours.

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