If you've ever held or attended an open house, you know how hectic it can be. Strangers are streaming in and out, commenting (or even complaining) about your choices of decor and poking their heads into your closets. It's a pretty vulnerable experience! Now imagine one of the people in your bathroom is actually using the visit to prepare for a burglary.
That's just what celebrities like Usher, Jason DeRulo, and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Dorit Kemsley experienced recently, and the LAPD have finally caught Benjamin Eitan Ackerman after he allegedly stole millions of dollars in items from their homes.
The sweet-talking thief supposedly posed as a realtor, approaching luxury homes and signing up for open houses under an alias. Allegedly, he then tricked brokers and their clients into private tours of the high-end mansions to scout their values and disable security cameras. After tricking unsuspecting victims, he returned to the homes and entered undetected, having already tampered with the security system.
Police have already identified over a dozen victims. They are maintaining an online database of the vintage wine, jewelry and handbags they recovered so that others can see their stolen property and reclaim it.
"When he showed up he was dressed to the nines. He acted the part," LAPD detective Jared Timmons told . "A lot of times people, we just want to be friendly. And we don't want to challenge people…and then because of that lack of challenging is how you basically invite the devil in."
How do you verify you're dealing with an actual real estate agent? First, a realtor will have no problem providing their business card, agency name, and license number. Every state has their own licensing board. You can google their name to see if they're legit, and the list of approved realtors is public record. The state board also has a record of complaints and filing against all realtors, so you can check to see that they have a good record and have maintained their licensure.
Still worried about who holds your spare key (or just feeling creeped out about this whole situation)? Invest in a security camera you can monitor while you're away. Shop our favorites below.
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