Open House Fraud

Most Real Estate professionals feel that open houses are not an effective way to expose a house to prospective Buyers and so they claim a number of things to avoid hosting and Open House. It is a lot of work. Placing strategic signs early on Sunday morning, arriving at the house with information sheets, talking with people for two hours and after having to pick up all the signs again. It is hard draining work to host an Open House. I differ on this point and I have a number of examples when I sold houses to people who visited at the Open House event! I believe an Open House can showcase the property allowing Buyers to consider ownership. I like doing them because I make it fun for me as well and the visitors.

When a property is attractive there can be a lot of people attending an open house. Real Estate professionals are required to have only licensed salespeople on site during these hostings. So how does one person supervise the activities of the visitors? Who watches in the bedrooms, the kitchens, the bathrooms and the basement? Who protects the precious belongs of the owners from theft?

A team of thieves have targeted southern Ontario this last year. They visit three or four scheduled Open Houses in nice neighbourhoods each weekend and steal valuable goods, jewellery, cash and collectibles often with out the owners knowing their belongs have gone missing for weeks! The would be Buyers enter the home together or separately and distract the Real Estate professionals in some way. They begin a heated conversation, pretend to have locked the bathroom door and can’t get out, claim something is leaking from the furnace, they smell natural gas or quite simply they ask if they can put an offer on the house. When the Real Estate professionals is distracted, the other person is free to dip their fingers into areas they should not be and rob the owners. Once complete the would be visitor Buyers leave the premises and move on to the next Open House.

After receiving a number of complaints, police followed two suspects doing a tour of home to home Open Houses one weekend and later arrested them on multiple counts of theft this fall. Police found large quantities of stolen goods at their possession and are trying to trace back the rightful owners. Well that would make for a happy ending however I reflect how many people don’t notice for months that something is missing or never really conclude that they have been a victim of crime?

I conduct my Open Houses in a manner in which visitors are carefully watched and screened when they enter and when they exit. That keeps every one happy and honourable. See the attached photos of the accused Open House Thieves Nora Ann THOMSON age 51 and Peter Mason KING age 52.

Anyone with new information to the investigation or have property they think they have lost related to these thefts are asked to contact either Det. Dellipizzi of Central East Criminal Investigations Bureau at 1-888-579-1520 ext. 2766

Recommended Posts