May 13, 2019

Suspicious Person Reported at Open Houses

A member of the Greater Lehigh Valley REALTORS® has recently reported a suspicious individual who fits the characteristics and actions of a person reported to the Association back in 2017.

Description: The man has gone by the names Jeff Kaplan, Jeff Goldberg and, most recently, David Kaplan. The man has been described as being in his 60s. He has gray hair, a thin build, wears glasses, and dresses in popular name brands. The man, who has a pleasant demeanor, claims to be on the phone with his wife, who was not able to attend an open house. He always provides fictitious contact information and never follows up.

Back in 2017 and now, the man claims to be looking for his daughter or daughters who work in the medical field. Most recently, he said they worked for St. Luke’s University Health Network.

This individual may be attending open houses with the sole purpose of stealing prescription medications. Please read over this article from the 2017 encounter that details how to secure prescription drugs during open houses and showings.

Should you catch someone in the act of stealing prescription medications or if a client reports them missing, contact the local police department. In addition, should you ever feel uncomfortable or threatened, contact the local police department or dial 911.

Here are 10 tips for holding a safe open house and/or showing:
 
  1. If possible, always try to have at least one other person working with you at the open house.
  2. Check your cell phone’s strength and signal prior to the open house. Have emergency numbers programmed on speed dial.
  3. Upon entering a house for the first time, check all rooms and determine several “escape” routes. Make sure all deadbolt locks are unlocked to facilitate a faster escape.
  4. Make sure that if you were to escape by the back door, you could escape from the backyard. Frequently, high fences surround yards that contain swimming pools or hot tubs.
  5. Have all open house visitors sign in. Ask for full name, address, phone number and email.
  6. When showing the house, always walk behind the prospect. Direct them; don’t lead them. Say, for example, “The kitchen is on your left,” and gesture for them to go ahead of you.
  7. Avoid attics, basements, and getting trapped in small rooms.
  8. Notify someone in your office, your answering service, a friend or a relative that you will be calling in every hour on the hour. And if you don’t call, they are to call you.
  9. Inform a neighbor that you will be showing the house and ask if he or she would keep an eye and ear open for anything out of the ordinary.
  10. Don’t assume that everyone has left the premises at the end of an open house. Check all of the rooms and the backyard prior to locking the doors. Be prepared to defend yourself, if necessary.
For more information on REALTOR® Safety, visit https://www.nar.realtor/safety. You can also check out this safety checklist for showings.