ARLINGTON, Wash. -- In a blatant case of "caught on camera." Arlington police are asking for your help identifying two suspects who they believe stole personal belongings from a woman's bedroom during an open house Friday.
During a broker's open house in Arlington's Gleneagle neighborhood. Gina Jone's home security cameras caught a man rummaging through her jewelry box before he appears to pocket the belongings. Another woman appears to be on the lookout from the hallway.
The man claimed to be a broker who forgot his business cards at an open house.
The homeowner filed a police report and says the thieves made off with a few necklaces, bracelets and a watch. One of the items was an Etsy necklace, given to Jones when her first grandson was born. Another was a bracelet given to her from her last sister who died last year. The items are mostly costume jewelry, but they had sentimental value.
"We hear about it all the time," said local real estate broker Beth Kovacevich, one of the top producing agents for Windermere Central in Kirkland.
"It's actually very common," said Kovacevich, whose never have a theft from one of her open houses but understands the vulnerability of homeowners. "It's not to give fear in anyone about open houses because open houses are key to selling a home."
Kovacevich says it's a horrible reality, but it's preventable and warns all sellers about what to prepare for before putting their home on the market.
"You'd be surprised that one of the number one things stolen is prescription drugs," said Kovacevich.
She tells sellers to eliminate clutter and get rid of personal items -- even ones that don't have monetary value.
"Any type of bills lying around, mail because people can steal that for credit card numbers," said Kovacevich.
She also recommends removing heirlooms or anything small children could break and your family photos. "Because we don't want the public seeing who's living there," according to Kovacevich, who says that's for the sellers own safety.
Whether you live at your home or not while it's on the market, Kovacevich says having a safe place for sentimental items like stored at a neighbor's or in a go-bag is a must.
Local agents don't typically follow interested buyers room to room. Instead, they usually remain fixed in one room for their own safety. Because they can't be with potential buyers at all times, Kovacevich says the homeowners did the right thing.
"I would recommend that people--if they're really worried about it--they install security cameras," said Kovacevich. "Even having a sign out front that says 'Smile you're on camera' would be maybe helpful."
Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for tips to help solve this case.
Think you know the suspects? Call 1-800-222-tips or use the P3 Tips app on your smartphone.