CBC News - British Columbia - Thefts at open houses a new worry - Real Estate Summerland Penticton BC

Commercial Real Estate Agent with BusCom Real Estate Services
If your house is being shown to potential buyers, be careful with your valuables, police and real estate brokers now advise.If your house is being shown to potential buyers, be careful with your valuables, police and real estate brokers now advise. (CBC)

The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board is warning agents to be on the lookout for thieves who target open houses, following a string of thefts in the Langley area in the past month.

Laptop computers, designer purses and even medications kept in bathroom cabinets have been stolen from real estate open houses and private showings.

Some veterans of the business said they've never encountered this kind of crime before now.

"I've been in real estate … for 26 years," said Deanna Horn, president of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board. "I've never had or heard of this kind of incident where people are actually taking stuff away from the home."

Potential buyers should be escorted

Police suspect some of the incidents are the work of a pair of thieves working together and posing as potential homebuyers.

Sellers should be on the lookout for two Caucasian women, one of whom walks with a cane and drives a distinctive car, according to RCMP Cpl. Holly Marks.

"If the Realtors noticed a dark-coloured [Ford] Mustang pull up, they may want to watch those people a little more closely," said Marks.

Marks cautions that the vehicle has not been associated with all incidents, so realtors should be observant with all potential homebuyers and never leave them unescorted in a home.

RCMP advise that people selling their homes take some practical precautions:

  • Hide valuables and medications.
  • Consider renting a safety deposit box at a bank to protect valuables.
  • If your home has a complex floor plan or multiple floors with many entrances, ask your real estate agent to bring additional agents.
  • Put away bills, credit card receipts and bank statements. If possible, store them with your valuables.
  • Remove personal photographs and anything that might identify you.
With files from the CBC's Ben Hadaway
via cbc.ca
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