by Anneli Rufus
The real-estate crash is being very, very good to thieves, as revealed by this warning on a Montclair neighborhood-watch forum, which describes the latest in a series of as many as six local burglaries "following an open house in a staged home." ("Staged" means outfitted for a stylish lived-in look.)
"In this case the house was recently put on the market and had been very elegantly staged, and apparently furniture valued at least $50,000 was stolen. A white van may have been used."
Another forum member adds: "I am a local realtor, and this happened to one of my listings."
She first became aware of the problem when "another agent alerted me that the lockbox was missing on a Saturday morning. I got there right away, and the thieves had begun moving the rented furniture (staging) into the garage, but nothing had been taken. I sat in my car in front for hours, and did see a large white moving van drive slowly by. The word Magnolia was on the side of the van, but they drove off too quickly to get much more information."
Wanting to spread the word, "I alerted the area brokers," and learned that others had experienced similar thefts. "Needless to say, I removed the lockbox from my listing, informed the out of area seller, and had locks changed and the alarm set. I only showed the home myself by appointment from then on. Please keep an eye on your neighbors' homes if they are for sale. These thieves are brazen, and I understand that in one case at least they robbed a vacant home in broad daylight, even saying hi to the neighbors. They look like they belong, but they could easily be thieves."