SF: Seller Beware!

All of us are looking at open houses as an opportunity, but apparently we don’t all share the same idea of “opportunity.”

According to the San Francisco Chronicle writer Henry K. Lee and the Berkeley Police Department, “a man posing as a prospective home-buyer and a woman claiming to be his mother were arrested today after they allegedly made the rounds at open houses throughout the Bay Area, stealing purses and wallets, police said today.

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Since at least April, McClung and Chapman, who had claimed to be his mother, have shown up in a Jaguar in upscale parts of Berkeley, Oakland, Fremont, Newark, Piedmont, Kensington and San Francisco.”

And if you think about an open house, one in which the owner/s are still living, you realize this is fertile ground for theft. I’ve always felt weird, even apologetic, opening the home owners’ closets to see their dirty laundry stuffed in overflowing bins; still, that’s as invasive as most people get. Yet according to police, these two thieves would “visit open houses and realty offices, saying they are willing to buy homes for cash. While the woman distracted the real-estate agent with conversation, McClung steals wallets and purses, which they used to commit more fraud.”

Luckily, Paul McClung and Carol Ann Chapman were arrested “out-of-state while driving a Hummer they rented, allegedly with a stolen credit card, said Berkeley police Lt. Wes Hester. The car’s OnStar vehicle tracking system led police to the pair.” But if you are home seller, this story might give you pause; clearly you want to be present, and very alert, at all your open houses.