15 December 2014

Police warn vendors against thieves

You wouldn’t normally invite hundreds of strangers into your home, but every weekend real estate agents ask vendors to do just that. And police say they have good reason to be nervous.

And police say they have good reason to be nervous. It’s an uncomfortable experience, but many home sellers need to be vigilant against identity and property theft when opening their homes for inspection, police say.

Thieves can use the opportunity to steal concealable valuables, steal identities and case properties for later raids, Inspector Tony Langdon of the Victoria Police Safer Communities Unit said. “It generally occurs because real estate agents haven’t put in place good measures to prevent the thefts. People are opportunistic, so they’ll go in there and see what’s easily stolen,” he said.

Thieves target smaller valuable items such as watches, phones, laptop computers and expensive-looking ornaments. But vendors and tenants should also be mindful of items that criminals can glean personal information from.

“Identity theft is one of the issues that we face as a community,” Inspector Langdon said. “It’s quite interesting to see what vendors leave out in the open, things that readily identify people, like mail and photographs, things of a personal nature that aren’t that hard to hide. Calendars up on fridges tell people what they’re doing and when they’ll be home.” He warned vendors to switch off computers because they could be used for identity theft.

The Sunday Age, 12th October 2014

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