Listening to her sixth sense could have saved Lindsay Buziak, a 24-year-old Re/Max agent who had serious misgivings about meeting that was scheduled at an executive home in Saanich on Vancouver Island. Buziak even told her boyfriend and father about her concerns but, in the end, went to meet the alleged couple. Sadly, her intuition proved to be correct. She was found dead in a second-floor bedroom of the home. She had been stabbed to death.
Real estate agents are especially vulnerable to targeted attacks as they often work late hours, meet with prospects in empty homes and drive around with strangers. Social media also makes it incredibly easy for criminals to target and track their prey with open home addresses and times of viewing clearly advertised on Facebook, Twitter and across various real estate listing sites.
It’s also very common, and easy, for attackers to arrange a private viewing to lure an agent into an empty home where the person is alone and vulnerable.
5 notorious crimes against Canadian real estate agents
- In early 2018, Kaminder Rai, a 32-year-old Realtor from Surrey, B.C who worked for Planet Group Realty, was shot outside a home in Kerrisdale and died later in hospital from his injuries. Police believe he was targeted.
- Successful Toronto real estate broker, Simon Giannini, was intentionally targeted and shot multiple times in 2017 by a lone male gunman wearing a hooded jacket in a busy Toronto restaurant. After the shooting, the suspect fled the restaurant, and Mr. Giannini later died of his injuries in hospital.
- In 2008, Lindsay Buziak was found dead with multiple stab wounds at a Saanich house on Vancouver Island. The 24-year-old Re/Max agent was intentionally targeted and lured to the home by a couple claiming to be homebuyers. The case remains unsolved by police.
- Toronto real estate agent, Lisa Posluns, failed to return home one night in November 2002. Police discovered her body in a utility room in the building and a janitor was arrested for her murder four months later. A convicted criminal, he was out on parole at the time.
- Real estate agent Wendy Carroll was brutally attacked in 1996 by two ex-convicts on parole in Mississauga but fought back and survived. The men were posing as buyers for a model home.
What can you do to avoid a targeted attack?
Realtors can take steps to guard their safety. Whenever possible, meet a new client at your office or in a public space. If, after meeting the client, your instincts are telling you something is ‘off’ or ‘out of place,’ consider declining the person (or people) as clients or opt to bring a work partner to every scheduled meeting.
In fact, working in pairs is a particularly good idea as it lessens the chance of being alone with a potentially threatening person or people.
If you are holding an open home alone, always inform others of your whereabouts, either verbally or via a safety mobile app. There are a number of free or low-cost Smartphone apps on the market designed for real estate agents. These apps help keep you safe by enabling you to check-in, send your GPS location, record conversations and access a quick tap button to alert contacts and notify emergency services.
Another good option if you are scheduled at an open house alone or you agreed to meet a client at a vacant home is to arrive early to “set-up: the home. This simply means learning the home’s layout as well as opening up windows and unlocking the exit doors. This preparation can help to guarantee an escape route if you feel threatened.
Being alert and aware of your surroundings is also important. Take note of anything suspicious, such as a prospect wearing a long coat on a hot day, as it could conceal a weapon. Always keep your distance from the potential buyer or seller and position yourself near an exit for a quick escape. If anything feels wrong or odd before entering the house, leave ASAP.
Taking a few simple but necessary precautions to protect your safety could be the key to making it out of a premeditated attack alive.