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Self Defense-Real Estate Open House

The blockbuster book "The Lincoln Lawyer" by New York Times best selling author Michael Connelly is based in large part on a wealthy playboy type, Louis Roulet, who makes his living in real estate. Roaming the streets of LA is the "Real Estate Rapist" who somehow knows how to gain access to vacant homes and lures female agents there to rape them. One of them is allegedly Mary Alice Windsor, Louis's mother.

The book is fiction of course. In real life where fact is sometimes stranger than fiction a very real problem exists: real estate agents make great targets for predators. Why? Most real estate agents are female and open houses are one of the keys to their success. As a result, real estate agents are in potentially dangerous situations more than they realize.

There are no reliable statistics on the number of assaults, rapes, robberies committed against real estate agents but one source did claim that 206 agents were murdered on the job between 1982 and 2000. There are no statistics for carjackings, non fatal shootings, beatings, stabbings, or robberies.

Here are some examples of potentially threatening situations:

1. Some agents-especially newbies-are encouraged to canvass door to door to get new leads.

2. There is a long standing practice for the agent to pick up a customer in the agents' car or to meet the customer in front of a vacant house.

3. Open houses present too many opportunities for predators.

4. Working late at night on paperwork at the office.

Office managers at many larger offices conduct safety training for their agents. That training covers a lot of agents but unfortunately leaves a lot of agents out in the cold and perhaps vulnerable.

Consider these tips that could save the life of a real estate agent.

1. Always carry some non lethal self defense weapons with you. Stun guns and pepper sprays are easy to conceal in your car, office and purse. Pepper sprays and stun guns have some restrictions so check with your local sheriff's department.

2. That gut feeling-called intuition-follow it. If the situation doesn't feel right to you-get out!!

3. Meet a new customer at the office and introduce him/her to some coworkers. Make a copy of their driver's license or get the plate number off their car. Explain it as office policy which it should be for security reasons. Never meet a new customer at the property especially if it is vacant. Ask the customer to follow you in his/her car. If that is not possible insist on driving your car.

4. Get some safety training at your office if it doesn't already exist even if it is just an informal session.

5. When showing a property let the customer lead and you follow keeping yourself between the customer and a door.

6. Where is your cell phone? It doesn't do you any good in the car if you're in a house. Keep it with you at all times.

Following these tips and using common sense could possibly prevent a crime and save your life. If you think crime can only happen to the other guy you are wrong. The "other guy" is thinking the same thing and YOU are that "other guy". There is a reason why they call it self defense. YOU have to protect yourself, your family, your home and business!!

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