Open houses are easy target for criminals

Sellers occasionally ask if I do open houses thinking that somehow helps to sell their home. I no longer do open houses for many reasons, one of which is the increase in open house crime in the Columbus Ohio area. Columbus open houses are an easy target for criminals and in the Columbus area, there have been several reports of crimes committed during or after an open house.

Columbus Open House Crime

Over 90% of home buyers search online!

Before I get into sharing some of the Columbus open house crime reports . . . I also want to mention that statistics show very few homes are sold, due to an open house. In the past when I have held open houses, honestly it was a great way for me to meet potential buyer clients or curious neighbors who might be looking to sell soon. So the open house typically benefited me more than the seller.  I never had a buyer buy the home because they saw it at the open house.  I’m not saying it can’t happen . . . but it’s just not that likely.

Today over 90% of home buyers are searching online for homes and online virtual tours have replaced the open house. Further, most serious home buyers are working with their own buyer’s agent, who is emailing them Columbus MLS listing updates, of homes throughout Central Ohio. Either way – buyers first see homes online, before choosing to see them in person.

Effective online marketing is a must!

Compare my online marketing and listing presentation and you’ll see it’s better than most REALTORS® in the Columbus area. To see an example of how I market my listings visit:

Serious buyers work with a realtor!

In addition, professional Columbus REALTORS® typically work with serious home buyers, who are pre-approved for a mortgage, showing them homes that meet their specific criteria and price range. Therefore when a realtor® shows your home to a buyer they are usually qualified to buy your home and not just browsing out of curiosity.  Buyers who visit open houses are often not serious, not qualified and the home may not even meet their criteria or price range.  I’ve also met many “curious neighbors” visiting open houses.

If you are not yet convinced that open houses are unnecessary, maybe viewing some of the crime reports will convince you.  Below is a small summary of some of the Columbus Ohio area open house crimes reported by REALTORS®.  NOTE: Complete REALTOR® names have been omitted.

Columbus open house crime reports:

Cash and meds stolen from Upper Arlington open house-  Reported cash and medication was stolen from an open house held in the Upper Arlington/Hilliard area a week ago Sunday. A police report was filed and it was determined that the person suspected of stealing from this home had done this before, and that his description – 6’ tall/170lbs, trim build, sandy blond wavy hair – closely match the description of a man who was suspected of trying to enter one home and who did steal meds from another home in the Arlington area last October. His MO is the same. After visiting the open house, he goes back asking to see the home again and, if he gets in, meds come up missing. He’s very personable and asked lots of questions. The only difference is his transportation. Last week he was driving a late 1990’s/early 2000 gold Pontiac, before it was a newer black extended cab pickup truck, and once he arrived on a bicycle with a backpack. Again, please watch out for a male of this description. And always caution your sellers to put their money and prescription drugs in a safe place (without easy access).

Drugs taken from Hilliard Open House –  Drugs were taken from the medicine cabinet at a home he held open on Saturday in Hilliard. He only had two people through on Saturday, with one lady – about 5’3”, medium build, 125 lbs., with dark hair — acting strange. She claimed to have a cold so she couldn’t sign in or touch anything. She stayed on the cell phone most of the time, and seemed skilled at trying to get Tom out of the room; asking for measurements of a different room, while she stayed behind in another room. She drove a black or dark blue Lexus. The same lady, same MO, showed up at Tom’s open house in Scioto Reserve on Sunday. Tom’s not accusing her of taking the drugs because he didn’t see her take them. But, she just seemed suspicious and he wanted to get this information out to see if any other agents have had someone fitting this lady’s description, MO, through their open house, where items have come up missing. The owner of the property where the drugs were taken has been asked to file a police report.

Open house stalker in Bexley – Reported that there is a white male — 60s, thick glasses, approximately 5’8”, 220 pounds — stalking blond female REALTORS® at open houses in Bexley. This person rides a purple bike and says he wants to butter people and put them in an oven. A protection order has been taken out against him and the Bexley Police Department has ordered him not to go to any open houses. If this person shows up at your open house or office, you should call the police immediately.

Robbery Suspects hit another Dublin open house – Reported that the couple suspected in committing the open house robberies was at her open house on Kendallridge in Dublin last weekend. She recognized the couple from their description in CBR Alerts. Upon arrival, as per their MO, the couple split up, with the woman going upstairs and the guy staying downstairs with Sandy engaging her in conversation. He asked if the home had a basement and, when told it did, became really insistent that Sandy show him the basement, which she didn’t and which really alarmed her. She walked toward the stairs and he moved to block the entrance to the staircase. She thinks he may have picked up that she recognized them. Sandy then grabbed her purse and went outside. He followed her out. Lucky for Sandy the neighbor came over and began a conversation with the guy, this gave Sandy time to get the license plate number and go back in the house to jot it down. Sandy described the couple as very clean cut, very professional looking. He wore a perfectly pressed chef jacket and pants and his beard was nicely trimmed. The woman had reddish blond hair and wore glasses. They drove a black ram pickup, which they had backed right up next to the garage door. Sandy’s clients are missing a camera, two watches and medication. A police report was filed with the Dublin police. Sandy is concerned that these two seems to be getting bolder and want to remind everyone to continue to be cautious of this couple.

Robbery suspects spotted at Hilliard open house – Reported that the couple suspected of stealing jewelry from open houses in Northwest Columbus visited his open house in Hilliard yesterday. Brian recognized the couple from the description reported here. Fortuately, there was no jewelry stolen (Brian asked his sellers to lock up their valuables), but the same MO — couple separates after entering the home with one of them trying to distract the agent — was used. Brian got their license number and called the Hilliard police who informed him that at this point there’s nothing they can do. But, Brian did find out that the guy has a restraining order against him and that he should be considered dangerous.

Jewelry stolen from another Dublin open house – Reported that jewelry was stolen from a home she held open in Dublin yesterday. After talking with a colleague, she found out that the description of the suspects is the same as the description of the couple who is suspected of stealing jewelry from an open house in Northwest Columbus that Tom held open last week. Again, this couple is described as a large black male at least 275-300lbs (looked like a body builder, but heavy), 6’ to 6’2”, with a full beard, and his girlfriend as a white female, 5’7”, about 155lbs, with red hair and a full large print tattoo on her upper chest. A police report has been filed.

Stolen Jewelry from Hilliard Open House – Reported that what appears to be the same couple that robbed a home in Hilliard (see below), also hit a condo they held open this weekend in Brittany Place — a Northwest Condo complex.  There was only one couple to stop by the home, and this couple is described as a large black male at least 275-300lbs (looked like a body builder, but heavy), 6’ to 6’2”, with a full beard, and his girlfriend as a white female, 5’7”, about 155lbs, with red hair and a full large print tattoo on her upper chest, which she tried to conceal with her clothing so that you could not make out the word(s). They were dressed in what appeared to be work out garb, but a neighbor may have seen the man in a white chef frock, which he may have removed before entering the condo. Once in the condo, the couple split up, with the male taking my full attention. Although positioned so agent could see most everything, the bedrooms were exposed and that is where the jewelry was taken.  A robbery report has already been filed. Everyone should also be on the look out for this couple.

Hilliard Open House Robbery – Reported that a couple visiting her open house in the Homestead Park area in Hilliard robbed her clients of all of their rings that were kept in a drawer in an upstairs bedroom. This couple is in their early 40s, a black guy, 5’8”/5’9”, heavy with a full beard and a white woman, 5’6”/5’7”, with strawberry blond hair, lots of freckles and brown glasses. They drove a Black Ford Truck F-150. The guy kept Annette occupied in the family room discussing how depressed the woman was, while the woman was upstairs stealing the rings. This couple fit the description of people who have stolen from other open houses in the area. Annette notified the Hilliard Police who told her that they are seeing a lot of these types of robberies (jewelry) since the price of gold has gone up.

Prescription painkillers stolen from Clintonville open house – MLS has been notified of a theft that has occurred during a REALTOR’S® open house in Clintonville on Sunday, February 22, 2009. The sellers reported that a prescription bottle of painkillers was removed from the upstairs bathroom medicine cabinet in the home. Several couples were in the home during this time and some moved freely about unattended and thus there are no primary suspects identifiable. Therefore, currently no crime report is known to have been given to local police by the sellers. REALTORS® are reminded to continue to use caution in their daily activities and remind sellers to remove valuables, small items of importance and medications from sites that are easily accessible by others viewing their property. Remember too that your local police department is available to help investigate matters that pertain to any crime.

Looking in the boy’s underwear drawer during Powell open house – At a Powell open house yesterday for a $550,000 listing, a man was found looking in a drawer of the son’s bedroom. Caught holding a pair of the boy’s underwear, the man said he liked the dresser and was trying to see who made it. The man was around 25 years old, about 5’7″, 160 lbs, white, short dark brown hair, wearing soccer shoes, tear-away type pants and a t-shirt with some type of Irish theme. The man was carrying around his Blackberry the entire time. Although the agent didn’t see his car, the open house visitor who walked in as the man was leaving said she thought he was driving a silver car – something like a Honda Civic.

Two burglars charged with stealing from open houses in Columbus, Dublin, Hilliard, Westerville  –  Police said on Friday that two burglars were charged in connection with burglarizing as many as four or five homes that were for sale.  Michael Shipley and Crystal Galloway were charged with burglary, 10TV’s Kevin Landers reported. Police said that the couple hit homes in Westerville, Hilliard, Dublin, Columbus and possibly more.

Police said that the duo would steal from houses that were for sale. Shipley would distract the realtor while Galloway would steal items in other rooms. When police arrested the duo they found something else.  “We also found heroin in his truck,” said Detective Brian Lacy. “I believe she had 7 units on her.” Detectives said that prescription drugs and jewelry were also stolen.

Court records showed that Shipley had been arrested before involving forgery, receiving stolen property, theft, aggravated burglary and felony assault. Galloway was convicted of receiving stolen property, possession of drugs, and passing bad checks.

Burglary detectives said that these alleged burglars may not have been caught, had it not been for some alert realtors who used the cameras on their cell phones to take pictures of the car the couple drove. Police asked if any realtor recognizes the couple to call police, because they believe the two may be responsible for other thefts.

Looking for Columbus Ohio Open Houses?

If you are a sincere and honest Columbus area home buyer looking for open houses, I’d like to offer my services as your personal buyer’s agent AT NO COST TO YOU.   As an experienced, award winning Columbus Ohio REALTOR® and Accredited Buyer Representative  I can show you any home listed for sale on the Columbus MLS, anywhere in Central Ohio and represent your best interests throughout the process of buying your home or condo.  Plus you’ll receive instant email updates of the newest listings that match your criteria, so you can see them before they are gone. Call Petra at 614-746-2115 for personal assistance or visit:

Comments ( 1 )

  • Ish  Reply

    After reading about all the crime at open houses in the Columbus area, I can’t see a good reason to do them.

    10 September, 2016 at 1:14 AM

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