How to Keep Your Belongings Secure When Hosting an Open House
They may look like they're buying a house, but these slick thieves have other items in mind.
Open houses can play an important role in selling your home — but some prospective buyers are looking for more than a house.
Surveillance footage from around the country shows people stealing belongings while touring homes.
Video from Seattle shows a couple arriving for an open house and politely taking off their shoes at the door. But once inside, police say their real motives became clear.
With the woman serving as a lookout, the man searched the bedroom, allegedly stealing more than $3,000 worth of jewelry.
Both were eventually arrested, and have pleaded not guilty.
At another open house in Seattle, a thief looked around a bedroom with his partner, and a surveillance camera caught the man pocketing a necklace.
"Oh," he says. "There's a camera!"
The couple then quickly leave – with the necklace.
More footage shows a woman at a different house apparently checking out the closet space in a bedroom — but she was actually looting it.
According to police, the woman posed as a prospective homebuyer to make off with $82,000 from a dozen open houses in Maryland. She was sentenced to a year in jail.
"So this could be a real issue in an open house," Inside Edition's Chief Investigative Correspondent Lisa Guerrero asked Connecticut realtor Alexa Kebalo, with The Kebalo Group of RE/MAX Right Choice.
"Absolutely," Kebalo said. "You never know if they're a potential buyer or a potential thief."
So how can you keep your valuables safe when buyers show up at your door?
In the master bedroom, Kebalo pointed out the potential dangers.
"You want to make sure any jewelry is removed," she said. "Any prescription drugs, watches, anything like that would certainly attract a potential thief."
In addition, "we always have people sign in first," her mother and fellow realtor, Cheryl Kebalo, said.
Anyone who walks through the door needs to sign the open house registry. Then ask to see their driver's license to make sure the names match.
And if you're really worried, a realtor can videotape your home and post a virtual tour online so strangers do not need to enter your home at all.
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