Also in Ohio, Realtor Andrew VonStein was found in a vacant home he had shown that night, dead of a single gunshot wound to the chest. Police are considering this case a homicide as well.
“Our hearts go out to the families and friends of our lost colleagues, and this tragic situation highlights the unfortunate fact that REALTORS are exposed to threats against their personal safety more often than other professionals. Although there is no guaranteed method to protect yourself, being safe starts with a plan and attitude and ends with utilizing the right tools to get you home to your loved ones at the end of the day,” Rob Goehring, Co-Founder of MyMoby.com (a personal alert tool which we recently covered).
The saddening list goes on…
Last week in Orange County, California, a man was convicted of rape and attempted murder after jurors deliberated for under two hours about the 2008 attack.
In 2006, Sarah Ann Walker was stabbed 27 times in an open house in McKinney, Texas.
In 2007, Samuel D’Costa was shot twice and left for dead in a basement of a home he was showing, and his car was stolen.
Last summer, Ricardo Contreras was discovered stabbed multiple times at a bank owned home in Westchester, California.
This year, James A. Hole, accused of robbing, beating, and strangling Cambridge Wisconsin Realtor Ann Wilson changed his plea to not guilty for reason of mental disease. The heartbreaking list goes on.
Real estate may seem like a cushy job from the outside, but from the inside, it’s not only a grueling pace that cuts into weekends and makes vacations nearly impossible, it’s a career that puts people alone outside of the public eye, making agents vulnerable. None of this is news, it is taught in real estate schools across the nation and it is an unfortunate truth agents live with.
What can be done to stop this
The National Association of Realtors is promoting Realtor safety month to advocate “the Keys to REALTOR® Safety: Knowledge, Awareness and Empowerment.” Through presentations, videos, webinars, handouts and various resources for agents, NAR is working to empower agents to be safe. Agents can even get tips by following @NARsafety (which appears to be an official NAR outlet despite no avatar, bio or link).
NAR recently surveyed their blog readers asking what safety devices agents carry and interestingly enough, 24% carry handguns while 0% carry stun guns. We asked on our Facebook page recently if agents feel safer with agents and overwhelmingly, agents that service REOs in rough neighborhoods carry guns while many carry heavy objects in their car (bats, crowbars between the seats, etc) for peace of mind.
Regarding her own safety, Northern California Realtor Jessica Murr said, “I always send an email to my office and my husband about where I’m going and to my office the name and contact information of my client. I never meet a client at a property that I haven’t met in a public place first. If they haven’t come to my office first or we haven’t been in ongoing communication for at least a few months I meet them at a grocery store or gas station or some other place where I can show up on a surveillance camera and can leave a paper trail with a purchase. That way my last known location is recorded, my office knows who I was with, and my office and my husband know where I was going. Also, my cell phone has GPS tracking and my car is enabled with OnStar.”
How do YOU keep yourself safe?
There are tracking and alert systems like Moby, defense tools (stun guns, hand guns, pepper spray), simple safety tips (like keeping all areas lit, not entering closets) and more to keep you safe. It’s easy to become complacent, especially if you’re in a nice neighborhood with a seemingly nice person.
How do YOU keep yourself safe? Are there any tips you have to share?