Safety at Open Houses

We’re heading into the weekend and after an insane week being bombarded by the media and providing no further comment than what has already been described on my blog, I’m spent.  Having said that, here are some tips and some links to sites with tips about increasing security at open houses so that you aren’t victimized:

  • Sellers should not just hide valuables but lock them up.  At our open house, my sellers had hidden all of their valuables and these crooks were able to discover some of them anyway.  In 16 years, I have never had or heard of this happening before.
  • Officer Solomon from the 24th Precinct suggests that agents or sellers call 911 immediately if you witness suspicious persons or activity.
  • Consider asking open house attendees for photo ID.  It may not please some but if they are real buyers, they won’t have an issue with producing identification.
  • Consider having multiple agents at an open house so that each person in attendance can be watched diligently.
  • Consider allowing one visitor or pair of visitors at a time to view the property.
  • Consider asking visitors to kindly leave handbags (containers) in a closet while they view the property.
  • Be sure that your cell phone is charged and that you have someone to call with a code word to alert them to call 911.  Also have your cell programmed to 911.
  • Don’t let people wander unattended through a property.
  • Check all rooms before leaving a property.

If other agents/brokers out there would like to add to this list before we go into this weekend, please do so and I will publish it ASAP.

I think perhaps the most important thought to leave everyone with is that this seems to be an isolated series of events perpetrated by the same duo.  This was not meant to create hysteria or anxiety but rather an awareness in the real estate community and the public so that no one else is victimized by these people.  That said, as a matter of safety going forward, all of us in the real estate industry as well as the sellers we represent need to be more diligent about safety and security at our open houses as they remain the most effective way to sell a home in Manhattan.

Here are some additonal links to sites about Open House Safety:

Workplace Safety (

Open House Safety (pdf from much of which is not relative to apartments but some is very helpful)

More Tips (from Alder Nagy)

UPDATE:  This particular duo was apprehended and charged on Saturday, November 24th.

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