BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — If you’re trying to sell your house, it’s probably the last thing you’d think of hiding — prescription pills. But now realtors say you must during open houses. Realtors in Western New York are working to prevent people from taking pills from your medicine cabinet.
Once the weather breaks, you’ll soon start to see more of signs of open houses happening across Western New York.
“There’s 10, 20, 30 plus people coming through all at one time so that’s a big change we’ve seen in the last couple of years,” said Joe Sorrentino Jr., a licensed realtor in Buffalo.
Sorrentino says there’s another big change that’s putting realtors on notice.
“It is shocking because when you’re walking through a house you know you’re looking at the house, you’re not thinking that someone’s going to be taking something,” said Sorrentino.
He says it’s been a problem nationwide, where people attend open houses to steal prescription pills from people’s homes. Some realtors say they’ve heard of it happening in Western New York.
“It’s not a specific thing that’s been happening recently but it has happened in the past so you always have to be aware of it,” said Sorrentino.
But it’s not just phony buyers who’ve been busted for stealing from medicine cabinets. Former Buffalo realtor Jill Hart pleaded guilty to burglary in 2016. Prosecutors say she hosted fake open houses to steal painkillers from people’s homes. The court recommended a drug treatment program.
“That’s how real someone’s addiction is that they’re essentially breaking into people’s houses and lying about why they’re going in there to steal drugs,” said Sorrentino.
Many realtors are working to prevent that from happening. They now tell clients to hide or remove any valuables during an open house.
“It is common now that we do tell them to make sure that your prescription drugs are safely put away,” said Robert Measer, a real estate agent for Hunt Real Estate in Williamsville.
Realtors also say they always make sure to have an extra pair of eyes during a showing.
“If you have a big house or you’re expecting a lot of people at the open house it’s not a bad idea to have more than one realtor there. Just to kind of keep an eye on and keep track of everybody that’s in there,” said Sorrentino.
Another tip for anyone selling their home, realtors say if you don’t feel comfortable having an open house — you don’t have to.
The former realtor Jill Hart, who stole prescription drugs, is scheduled to be sentenced March 6th.