Thieves targeting vacant, remodeled homes in areas impacted by Harvey

The Houston Police Department warns burglars are targeting homes that are being remodeled after Harvey and stealing appliances.

Earlier this summer, they reported a spike around the Willowbend area in the southwest part of the city. They report in May there were 79 burglaries and mostly to vacant, remodeled homes. Thieves were targeting appliances. Typically, they average about 50 a month. They report the incidents decreased after they increased patrols. However, a group of realtors worry the thieves are busy again. 

"They happened literally I think a day in between each other," said Kim Garcia Laugue with The WIRE 
Team. Three of their listings had their stoves and dishwashers stolen. The homes are rehabbed and vacant. Two are in Willowbend area and the other was in Spring.

"We’ve been doing this for a few years and have never had this happen at any of our listings," said Kiki Baker, also with The WIRE Team. 

"We definitely have to put appliances in to get the listing ready. You’re not going to attract a buyer in an empty kitchen. And it’s also a requirement of most mortgage loans," Baker explained. 

Laugue believes realtors should be on high alert.

"Other realtors if you have a listing that is vacant, make sure it has some type of security," she added.

One of the homes in Willowbend was also staged. Thieves stole 4 dining room chairs and the stager moved her furniture out. Laugue says staging helps sale homes.

Joshua Perez with ADT security says vacant, remodeled homes are attractive to thieves.

"What those homes that are being renovated present is an opportunity to appear as though you might be someone who is supposed to be there working on the home," he explained.

Perez says the goal should be to make the home appear that it’s occupied or checked on regularly.

Some type of security system is always recommended, but Perez has other simple tips such as not letting mailers and fliers pile up.

"When [they] start to accumulate you’re basically telling the potential bad guys, 'Get this is the type of home you can spend a significant amount and go undetected,'" he added.

Other tips include having a neighbor park in the driveway, putting exterior lights on a timer, installing glass break and motion sensors, keeping the landscape maintained, and even putting up seasonal decorations.

"You give that appearance you’re home," Perez concluded.