Female realtors in Ottawa are on high alert as the real estate board believes one man is stalking and threatening the women.
Ansel Clarke, president of the Ottawa Real Estate Board, says there have been at least two reports over the past month where realtors say a man has pretended to be interested in buying a home, but has instead threatened the realtors.
In one case, the man tried to convince a real estate agent to follow him into a basement three different times and he tried to lock a door behind an agent.
In a second case, the man asked a realtor about purchasing an equestrian farm and then went silent, Weeks later he showed up at the realtor's open house claiming to coach Olympic equestrian athletes.
When he was challenged about the financial aspects of a sale, the realtor told the board he became violent and tried to trap her in the basement and deadbolt the front door of the house.
Suspect known to police: Board
The real estate agents have called police about both cases. Police have told the real estate board the man's description aligns with someone who has an "extensive criminal record," Clarke said.
Police were not able to find any reports when contacted by CBC News.
Clarke said the man is described as white, about 45 years old with red hair. He stands about six feet tall, he is physically fit and he wears a suit and glasses when he meets the realtor.
"We take it very seriously, anytime someone with that kind of a record tries to put one of our members in a compromising situation," Clarke said.
"We believe this person to have ulterior motives, so we're sending out a warning to all our members to be on the lookout and to be more vigilant."
The man has appeared at open houses and called agents to show him properties, Clarke added, but when they meet him they realize he is not intent on buying a home and he does not have the funds to make the purchase.
Urged to take precautions
Clarke said there are daily notices being sent out to real estate agents and all managers are discussing safety precautions with realtors, especially women.
Clarke said those precautions for real estate agents include:
- Ensure the first meeting is in an office or public space.
- If you're having an open house, ensure someone knows what time you arrive and leave.
- Notify a neighbour or a colleague you are inside the home.
- Keep yourself between the door and the individual to allow quick escape.
In 2011, the most common causes of on-the-job deaths for realtors in the U.S. were injuries from animals, followed by homicides, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The majority of the homicides were targeted at landlords, the bureau said.