Westchester DA: Real Estate Ads Can Lure Burglars

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Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore. Photo Credit: Con

Janet DiFiore is the Westchester County District Attorney.

As District Attorney and chief law enforcement officer in Westchester County, I want to wish you and your family a safe, happy and healthy New Year. And as we enter a new year, I want to encourage you and your family to be pro-active about your own safety and security, especially in your own home. One way to do that is to review how much information you share publicly about your home, especially in light of what my office discovered in the course of a recent investigation into residential burglaries here in Westchester County.

We have learned that high-end homes were being targeted by thieves for invasion through systematic print and online research, including real estate brokers’ promotional magazines and online residential listings made available to the general public. These advertising sources provided the location of potential target homes and the layout of the property. They often included details about the suggested value of the home, and photographs of the interior that revealed the level of furnishings and artwork contained within. Quite simply put, the photos were used by thieves as a blueprint for their burglaries. In addition to the risk of the theft of personal property, there is always a risk the burglars may encounter the homeowner or a family member at the time of their illegal entry, creating a potentially dangerous situation.

I am sharing this information with you, and have alerted real estate professionals in Westchester County to these findings, so that together, you can consider the security issues that arise when you advertise your home for sale. Consider whether artwork and other valuables should be included in promotional photographs of your home and make sure you also review the security of your home. In a number of the burglaries we have investigated, the homeowners had gone through the trouble, time and expense to install  elaborate security systems but did not fully activate them, including at the time of the break-in. Whether you are a client or a Realtor, I urge you to pay careful attention to home security and to have ‒ and use ‒  appropriate locks and security systems that will help you maintain the safety and security of your home.

Please do not hesitate to contact me or my office if you have any questions or suggestions about this or other public safety issues.

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  • 8
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Comments (8)

vladimirmesic:

Have you ever desired to be a criminal activity field investigator? Well if you have, or haven't I think you might be enthusiastic about what kind of details I have to communicate to you about what it requires to become a CSI.
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henry.devish:

The smoke detectors batteries have also lost all their juice. Vacant homes are often a big risk. Look at the homes where Hurricane Sandy hit. These residents have been worried for good reason. In WP vacant buildings and stores often deteriorate with neglect on the part of landowners becoming dangerous places to even walk by. These buildings are easy to spot and can be "stripped" as well.

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sandra.harrison.902604:

Good intentions by one industry ends up contributing to more crime. What a pity. Advice is good to know. There are vacant apartments in my building and one has things delivered to it and it is still sitting in hallway. The smoke detectors batteries have also lost all their juice. Vacant homes are often a big risk. Look at the homes where Hurricane Sandy hit. These residents have been worried for good reason. In WP vacant buildings and stores often deteriorate with neglect on the part of landowners becoming dangerous places to even walk by. These buildings are easy to spot and can be "stripped" as well. Look what homeowners who lose their homes to Banks often do to the structures before they are evicted. I heard once cement was put down a toilet. The high end sellers could hire house sitters to keep their homes in good condition and to prevent theft.

jphilipfaranda:

Another concern would be vacant homes. If the photos show no furniture, then the house could be a sitting duck to be stripped of copper pipes, appliances, fixtures and other valuables.

Petfield:

Vince I was thinking the same thing or they just might stay away from the homes that the Journal New spread out so everyone could see and go after the homes that don't have guns! Ms. District Attorney you might want to look into that a little more!

Vince:

Good and informative article. If these house robbers read the Real Estate adds
for potential targets, do you believe they will use the Journal news' list of Pistol Permit Holders, with home addresses, to target law abiding citizens when they are not home, especially with the incentive of perhaps finding a gun or two???

Jaques Mihov:

Thanks Ms. District Attorney for your excelent information. Maybe you can share your insight with the Journal News.

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