Homeowners and real estate agents in West Vancouver are being warned that one lookie loo was checking out more than marble countertops and high-end appliances at recent open houses.
Local agents were recently sent a warning after valuables in three West Van homes went missing following public open houses.
The first time an open house was interpreted rather literally was in July, when jewelry and a laptop computer went missing following a real estate open house in the 300 block of Mathers Avenue. The pattern was repeated on Oct. 2, when a laptop, watches, credit cards and other personal items apparently walked away from an open house in the 2300 block of Lawson Avenue.
Someone also took the opportunity of attending an Oct. 9 open house in the 4800 block of Vista Place as an invitation to check out more than the million-dollar view. A tablet computer, costume jewelry, rings and watch all vanished from the home following an open house there.
“We are investigating,” said Const. Jeff Palmer, spokesman for the West Vancouver Police. But he warned homeowners that it behooves them to be cautious if they don’t want to see their possessions pocketed by strangers.
“You are inviting strangers to come to your home and wander around and have a look,” he said, which means people with criminal intentions also have “a lawful way of seeing a house and seeing what’s in there.”
Homeowners should make sure they stash all valuables in secure storage if they don’t want to risk those items walking out the door, said Palmer.
“We certainly recommend not to have any personal items of value out,” he said. “Even if someone signs in, you don’t know it’s their real name.”
Police are interested in identifying a man captured on surveillance video after he stopped in at another open house in the area. That person may have also been present at one or more of the three homes where items went missing. The man is described as Persian, in his late 20s to early 30s, who wore sunglasses and carried a cellphone.
At one open house in early October, real estate agents reported the man made comments about his wealth and made some inquiries but appeared to quickly lose interest when told the home had been staged and didn’t contain owners’ personal possessions.