Continued home invasions in occupied listings
Several homeowners with their houses on the market in Benton, Arkansas have come home in recent weeks to their homes having been ransacked and items from jewelry to iPads missing. The problem with these home invasions was that there was no forced entry- the burglar were using a house key to enter these homes, after stealing the MLS lock boxes and returning later to enter the homes with his newly acquired keys.
One homeowner happened to be home when his doorbell rang, he was going to ignore it until he heard the deadbolt unlock and was greeted by a “startled” man with a black bag who introduced himself as “Roger” and said he called “Michelle” (the listing agent’s name who had never spoken to a “Roger”) and was there to tour the home. He asked the owner for an info sheet and the man walked back to his SUV. On his way to the vehicle, the homeowner noticed the lock box was missing, stopped “Roger” as he backed out of the driveway, who denied taking it- the homeowner got his license plate number, according to Channel 11 News.
Jewelry, iPads, computers, cameras strewn about the apartment
The license plate was used to track down “Roger’s” leased car which led investigators to 39 year old George Sedberry who was arrested in his apartment which investigators report was full of moving boxes, three computers, two iPads, two digital cameras, a substantial amount of jewelry, a bucket with ten Realtor lock boxes, various keys (some with address labels), and silver flatware. In searching his Suburban, they found more jewelry, more keys and a lock box along with various papers listing homes for sale.
Sedberry has been charged with five counts each of residential burglary and theft of property with more charges anticipated. The investigation has revealed that he was researching homes for sale online, driving to the neighborhoods to steal the lockboxes, take them to his apartment, remove the key and return to the house a day or two later, simply walking in the front door with a key. Channel 11 reports that Sedberry stole mostly jewelry which he mostly pawned, and that his burglaries and thefts are not limited to Benton but occurred in Little Rock, Sherwood< Bryand and Maumelle as well. Stolen property that has been recovered through the investigation has been returned to their original owners. Tip for real estate professionals: make sure your homeowners are checking that their lockbox is closed properly every day, is not loose, and is actually where it was originally installed.