Multiple threatening incidents in St. Petersburg, Florida last week have sent shockwaves through the real estate community there. A man using a fake name scheduled appointments to see houses with an agent. Once inside the home, he attacked the agent, tied her up and called her husband to demand a ransom. Fortunately, the victim wasn’t hurt as the assailant fled shortly thereafter.
Later that day however, he struck again with a different agent. Luckily, another agent who walked in on the scene interrupted the attacker’s plans before he was able to flee again. As of this writing, the assailant was still on the loose with the community worried he may be ready to strike again at any time.
“There was a level of planning that went into these crimes, and that’s what makes us fear he will strike again,” St. Petersburg Assistant Police Chief Jim Previtara said, as reported by ABC News.
The incidents have highlighted the risks real estate agents face on the job when meeting relatively unknown customers. While the above incidents were quite extreme, other people who work in the business have reported being harassed, receiving threats on their personal phones and _via_ email.
While some of these risks are impossible to eliminate completely, this recent article has a number of precautionary measures that real estate agents can take to potentially mitigate trouble, including:
- Meeting all new clients at the office first and making a copy of their identification.
- Avoid visiting empty homes with a complete stranger by yourself.
- Always keep your phone on you.
- Keep valuables locked away.
Hopefully the assailant is caught soon, but these incidents should be a reminder that working in real estate has some unique safety risks to be managed.