Two recent jewelry thefts during open houses are a reminder for homeowners and real estate agents to take precautions to keep valuables safe, the Glen Ellyn Police Department said.
On January 20, jewelry was stolen during two separate open houses. The first open house was in the 100 block of Park Boulevard and the other in the 400 block of Taylor Avenue. In the first theft, the value of items stolen was less than $500. While in the second, the value was more than $500, according to police reports.
Glen Ellyn Deputy Police Chief Bill Holmer said he was unaware of any other related incidents either in Glen Ellyn or in neighboring communities.
“Unfortunately, the process allows for complete strangers to wander around the house unsupervised,” Holmer said. “Homeowners should try to ensure that valuables are secured and inaccessible.”
Safety tips for homeowners and real estate agents holding open houses:
- Homeowners selling a house need to remember that strangers will be walking through their home. Hide any valuables in a safe and secure place. If you have a vault or a fire safe box, keep all important documents as well as jewelry in it. If you have prescription drugs, keep them away from plain sight. This way, those who are trying to seek some thrills will not be tempted.
- Maintain an information sheet and have all open house visitors sign in. Ask for full name, address, phone number, and email address.
- Handle all prospects in the same manner and by the same rules. If you make it clear to all prospects that they must sign a register and leave their identification with you while they view the home, then you are following a policy to protect the seller as well as yourself. Legitimate prospects won't mind and may be favorably impressed.
- Write all identification numbers down on your log.
- At an open house, be alert on the pattern of visitors' arrivals, especially near the end of the showing hours. In some areas, a group of thieves may show up together near the end of the open house and, while a string of supposed potential buyers distracts the realtor, stealing any valuable they come across.
- For agents, never work an open house alone. Bring another agent or a mortgage broker along. They can help you register guests, or accompany one group to view the home while you work with a second group.
- Make sure your cell phone is freshly charged before you hold an open house. Keep it handy. Practice dialing 911 without looking at the dial. Hopefully, you will never need this skill, but if you do, you'll be ready.