By Peter Ricci
An open house theft in Highland Park has translated into a pending lawsuit for Winnetka-based Midwest Realty Ventures, a Prudential Rubloff affiliate that operates throughout the North Shore.
According to a number of reports on the incident, including dispatches from the Sun Times and CBS Chicago, Highland Park resident Lena Katamanin is suing the brokerage for unspecified damages on $162,000 worth of jewelry that was stolen during an April 22 open house.
Open House Nightmare for Midwest Realty Ventures
According to reports, Katamanin’s lawsuit alleges that Midwest Realty Ventures had “sole control” over her property during the open house, and, because of its “careless and negligent acts,” are thus liable for the theft; Katamanin’s property is located in the 900 block of Sheridan Road.
The suit requests a jury trial, but interestingly, as the Sun Times reported, the suit does not mention whether or not the alleged theft was reported to the police, and the Highland Park police have not commented on the lawsuit.
Guarding Against Theft at Open Houses
Open houses, as the Midwest Realty Ventures scenario demonstrates, can be ripe settings for theft, and not just the jewelry and other, more obvious valuables. As this Yahoo! op-ed points out, drugs and pharmaceuticals are also a common source of theft at open houses.
Although theft is not uncommon in open houses, such incidents are normally handled through insurance firms (either representing the homeowners, the brokerage, or both) rather than the courts. For protection of all the parties, it is considered best practice to address the liabilities of open houses in the listing agreements.
And in the end, it pays to be careful with your open houses, so make sure that you are following these steps:
- Hide any valuables, particularly jewelry, medications or any other small, easily-pocketed items.
- In addition, try not to flaunt the home’s wealth, so that you’re not enticing any foul play.
- And finally, securely lock any sections of the home that are not part of the open house, and seal off any hallways that you’re not monitoring.