Yet more vacant property theft news in the Puget Sound area…

Staging Thefts Reported

January 29, 2007. It was reported to NWMLS that a theft of Staging items took place in Area 21 (Tacoma). The thieves broke off the door knob to get the Keybox and were able to retrieve the keys. A long list of items where stolen, stripping the house from towel racks to bedroom doors, including the kitchen island with butcher block on top. The Police Forensics Officer said, it looked like the thieves took things they needed to complete another house. If you have any information please call the police and reference case number #070280683.

It looks like thieves are getting even more gutsy and just putting a keybox on the doorknob isn’t the most secure. Agents – take note and work with your client to set up a safe method of access. Sellers – talk to your agent about the best way to secure your belongings and property. Perhaps come up with strategies for best placement and securing of keyboxes. For those with a vacant house perhaps it makes sense to not have a sign out front that makes it obvious to thieves that your property is on the market? I don’t know if these folks are accessing online systems to find houses for sale – but certainly it might help and it would force a thief to be more crafty than just seeing a sign outside.

The information at the top of this posting comes directly from the password protected NWMLS site for agents as did the previous post that noted thefts from other areas, noted by the codes the NWMLS and agents use to define territories.

Appalling Statistics

Recentlyk Reba Haas wrote a post about theft of copper from new construction sites.

Today the NWMLS reports that this theft is still on the rise. Here are the appalling statistics.

The thefts since January 1st have occurred in the following areas:

  • Area 54 – Tacoma area – 1 theft reported
  • Area 72 – Edgewood area – 1 theft reported
  • Area 100 – Auburn area – 1 theft reported
  • Area 140 – West Seattle area – 1 theft reported
  • Area 500 – Newcastle and Newport Hills area – 7 thefts reported
  • Area 550 – Union Hill area – 1 theft reported
  • Area 760 – Darrington area – 1 theft reported
  • Area 730 – Meadowdale area – 1 theft reported

[photopress:snarling_dog.jpg,full,alignright]Appliances, staging furniture, copper are being stolen, by apparently opening the nwmls keybox without a keypad, since the use of a keypad would be recorded.

What do we do next? Iron gates and patrol dogs?

Danger, Will Robinson… theft types for all to be aware of

Prescription Drug Thefts
NWMLS has once again received reports of prescription drug thefts at Broker Open Houses in the Seattle area. NWMLS advises you to request a business card or require registration at all open houses from everyone in order to keep track of those in attendance. In addition, please report similar thefts to NWMLS, as well as a list of attendees so that we may look for patterns in behavior and conduct. Please also remind your clients to remove or secure their possessions, particularly their prescriptions, before their home is shown or held open.

Staging Thefts Reported
Area 500: Keyboxes were missing on two new construction properties. One house was missing all staging items, including high-end appliances. The second property was missing the keybox (no staging was taken). Police have been notified.
Area 770: All staging material was taken — including a ceiling fan removed from the ceiling. The keybox was not broken into. Marysville police have been notified.
These notices were just put out by the NWMLS to highlight recent thefts – this after the notice about copper being stolen out of new construction and vacant homes. Thieves targeting houses seem to be getting more common or we’re just hearing about it more.
What can you do to help thwart these kinds of problems? Make sure also to leave outside lights on if you aren’t living on the premises so people in the neighborhood can see what’s going on in your yard. Perhaps have a friendly neighbor keep an eye on your place and to be willing to call if there is any suspicious activity. I’ve often knocked on neighbor’s doors to tell them if the house will be vacant and to ask for help in watching out for predatory types. Especially if we’ve already moved some things out for staging I’ll be sure to tell the neighbor, “if you see another moving truck here and there is no SOLD sign on the yardarm or we haven’t told you the place is sold, call the police.”
The NWMLS tells agents to secure keyboxes to properties yet I still find them on front porches of homes without any kind of attachment such as a bicycle lock or otherwise. Why are these sellers and their agents not securing the keys to the home? There really is no good reason not to given the number of resources available to do so. I’ve also spoken with other staging companies that have had their products stolen out of vacant homes including the home’s appliances. This is pretty serious stuff and if it doesn’t get better soon it could make people very nervous about selling their homes.
For goodness sake, if you’re going to sell your home be sure your agent is going to secure the keybox at the property – in fact, help them secure it. Good ways to do this include not having the keybox out in the open where it’s obvious, using a strong bicycle lock, or putting the keybox in an area that requires someone know where it is (notes can be put in agent remarks of NWMLS listings).