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My Quote in Detroit Free Press: Open-House Thefts Arrests Prompt Warnings

By Zlati Meyer, Detroit Free Press

Any real-estate agent will tell you hosting an open house when you’re trying to sell your home is key.

But rolling out the welcome mat for would-be buyers also can attract thieves. Two Detroit men were arrested Thursday for allegedly stealing from open houses in Troy and are suspected of thefts during open houses in 15 communities in three counties, Troy investigators said today.

Charles Frazier, 39, and Durand Micheau, 44, allegedly snatched wallets containing cash and credit cards, and jewelry from the open houses. One of them would distract the Realtor — for example, asking to see the backyard, property line or basement furnace, while the other would grab unsecured valuables.

“Most criminal are opportunists,” said Troy Police Sgt. Andrew Breidenich. “They saw maybe a weakness in how open houses are run to do some larcenies, to take advantage of it.”

“If it’s a busy location or if it’s properly advertised, you’re going to get a lot of traffic in,” said Brandon Kekich of The Kekich Team at ReMax in Northville, who’s had one open-house theft and two that were averted. “They basically overwhelm the host with questions — ‘How about the crack in the ceiling?’ ‘How about that?’ ‘I’m really worried about this.’…These people are very sophisticated with their techniques compared to how they used to be. Gab and run. They’d go through drawers.”

He estimated that 25% of the 80 homes sold last year were through open houses.

But William Brundage of Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel in Birmingham is no longer a fan of open houses.

“I’m very cautious with what’s going on with theft and safety issues. I’m discouraging sellers in this market (from) having open houses,” he explained. “In today’s market with virtual tours and an almost unlimited number of photos able to be posted with the listing, individuals really should be able to get a very good idea of what the home is all about and then, they can book a private showing through the agent.”

How to prevent open-house thefts

■ Get rid of all your valuables by putting them in a safe or taking them off-site.

■ Remove documents containing personal information, which could be used for identity theft.

■ Request a Realtor walk-through of house to double-check everything that needs to be out is out.

■ Hide spare keys and garage door openers,

■ Ask your Realtor to staff the open house with other people, so it’s harder for criminals to be alone and able to steal something.

■ Require all attendees to sign in at the door to dissuade would-be robbers from the get-go.

■ Don’t let more people into the house at one time than the Realty staff can watch.

■ After the open house, check all doors and windows to make sure they’re locked. This will prevent thieves from re-entering the house later.

About William Brundage:
Named the Best Realtor by the Oakland Press and also named Real Estate All-Star by Hour Magazine, William Brundage is an industry leading Realtor bringing over twenty years of experience to successfully marketing and selling fine homes and estates. His dedication to his clients and our community places him in the top 1% nationwide. Personalized service and client satisfaction are paramount. William is committed to getting you the best price and terms in the shortest amount of time.

Cell: 248-980-2455

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