COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) — Realtors and home sellers around Colorado Springs are on alert after a man was arrested for stealing items worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Colorado Springs Police say 37-year-old Brandon Hernandez was able to get away with $25,000 worth of stolen jewelry from open houses up and down the Front Range by posing as a realtor for out-of-state clients.
The Pikes Peak Association of Realtors tells KRDO they have practices in place to avoid something like this, but it’s important for the homeowners to be proactive.
“We have always been very conscientious of safety, both for our seller’s properties, as well as for the agents that are serving the open houses,” said Ann Kidd, Chairperson of the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors.
The number one way to reduce your risk when selling your home? Completely remove any valuables from the house, including documents that could be used for identity theft.
“Jewelry, prescription drugs, any weapons that they have that are not in a safe,” said Kidd. “And surprisingly, the block of knives that you have on your kitchen counter. That becomes a weapon that people have made note of if they have devious plans, so we encourage our sellers to remove that as well.”
Your realtor should also keep a strict list of who comes in and out of the home.
And of course, security cameras are always an option.
“I tell everybody when we’re entering a home, I want you to assume that you’re being taped because most people have some kind of security system that has a recording device on it,” said Kidd.
The Pikes Peak Association of Realtors also has practices they encourage their agents to follow during open houses.
“We do encourage our realtors to not be at the open house alone,” said Kidd. “They should have two to four agents with them and strategically place them throughout the house so that as potential buyers come in, they are supervised as they walk through the property and it precludes the vanishing of items.”
Realtors in the association are also told to check every door and window after an open house to ensure no one left a way to get inside later.
During a search of Hernandez’s home, officers seized around $50,000 worth of suspected stolen jewelry.
Hernandez told police he was stealing the goods to finance his fentanyl addiction.
If you believe you were one of his victims, contact Colorado Springs Police.