Real-estate agents stress safety on the job

by: Gina Esposito Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Members of the local real estate industry talked Friday about ways to stay safe on the job after a real estate agent was robbed at gunpoint in south Charlotte earlier in the week.

Maren Brisson-Kuester is a realtor at Cottingham Chalk Hayes Realtor and the past president of the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association.

"We are a very vulnerable industry and we put a lot of faith in other people," Brisson-Kuester said.

She told Channel 9 that she received a cold call about one of her listings a few years ago.

She said she had a gut feeling that she should not meet the potential client alone.

“I did not go inside the property until my co-worker got there,” she said. “The gentleman got extremely agitated and left immediately."

Brisson-Kuester said now, every time she's with a client, she wears a device called a cuff that blends in with her jewelry.

"With one press, it notifies 911 and my emergency contacts and sends my GPS location and it tracks," she said.

Throughout the year, security expert Ross Bulla, with Treadstone, meets with realtors to talk about how they can protect themselves. He tells them to remove their profile photos, which can make them targets.

"The victims are often selected on their appearance, and the attackers often circle the photograph of the potential victim," Bulla said.

Forty percent of people in the real estate industry feel unsafe on the job, while 96 percent have never been a victim of a crime, according to a 2015 report from the National Association of Realtors.

Two percent have been robbed, 1 percent have been assaulted and 1 percent have been the victim of identity theft. About 50 people in the industry die on the job every year, and about a third of those deaths are homicides.

"It’s a very real thing that we have to be aware of and that's what we are really preaching to all of our members," Brisson-Kuester said.

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