There are many pitfalls to selling a home, and being the victim of scams, theft, and fraud is unfortunately one of them. A recent incident in a California neighborhood involving thieves posing as movers highlights how vulnerable empty homes for sale are to people with bad intentions. Here's more information about this event and what you can do to protect your empty house from burglars.

Fake Moving Company

According to available information, the thieves burglarized at least three homes in the McKinley Park neighborhood in full view of neighbors. The thieves gained access to the homes by cutting the lockboxes and using the keys to get inside and steal appliances. At least one of the homes was under construction.

They were able to get away with the crimes because they looked like they worked for a moving company. Since the homes were empty, it apparently didn't seem out of the ordinary for a moving company to be on the properties removing furnishings, even though the homeowners were not there.

Protecting Your Home from This Type of Burglary

It can be challenging to protect yourself from burglars posing as fake movers because the tools used to sell your home can be used against you. For instance, thieves can get an idea of the layout of your home and whether there's anything of value to steal by looking at the pictures posted on your real estate listing. However, there are a few things you can do to minimize your risk of becoming a victim.

  • Make the home appear occupied. Use automatic timers to turn lights on and off and visit the property at least once per week to pick up flyers or other paraphernalia that may have been left on the door step. Keep the lawn and exterior portions of the home well maintained.
  • Install an alarm system to monitor the home for intrusions. There are several systems that allow you to access the system's video feed over the Internet, so you can see what triggered the alarm and catch thieves in the act.
  • Talk to the neighbors and ask them to keep an eye out for anything suspicious. Make sure they have your contact information so they can let you know about things that happen on the property or confirm whether someone is supposed to be there.
  • Talk to your real estate agent about whether a lockbox is needed. Although it's a convenient way to provide a key to the agent when he or she needs to show the home, these devices can easily be broken into. Look for other ways to provide access to the house, such as leaving a spare key with a trusted friend or neighbor.

For more tips on securing your empty house, contact a real estate agent in your area.