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Realtor Safety: Understanding Crime and Criminals

September 09 2015

This month, we're publishing content from a course on Realtor Safety. This is the second in a series of articles that teaches Realtors how to prevent being a victim of crime. Read the first article here.

safety criminal handcuffsCriminology is an enormous sociological discipline and the information included in this article will not make you an expert criminologist. However, the purpose of this post is to give you basic information about the criminals and crimes you are most likely to encounter as a real estate agent. Understanding crime and criminals will help you be more effective in deterring criminals from targeting you, as well as making safer decisions should you ever find yourself the target of an attempted crime.

Categories of Crime

There are two different categories of crimes:

  1. Crime against person
  2. Crime against property

Types of Crimes

In addition to different categories of crime, crime can also be broken out into different types based on the degree of intent. The types of crime you are likely to run into are:


  • Pre-planned – The intent from the start was to commit the crime
  • Planning may be rudimentary or sophisticated
  • Typically unemotional
  • May be either a crime against person or a crime against property

Crimes of opportunity

  • Not planned
  • Most often a crime against property (theft)
    • Not typically a theft of something on your person, typically the theft of something in the house, your bag, or your car

Crime of compulsion

  • The meeting was pre-planned and met a psychological need
  • The crime, although fantasized about, was not the original intent
  • The crime was part of an obsessive-compulsive cycle
  • Most often associated with crimes of a sexual nature

Criminal Motives

Motive is an essential part of any crime, most crimes committed against real estate agents have one of two motives:


  • The goal is to obtain money or valuables
  • Typically associated with crimes against property unless it involves kidnapping for ransom
  • Usually pre-meditated if it involves robbing the agent directly; maybe a crime of opportunity if it involves theft of items in house or agent's bag.
  • It's the most common motive
  • Typically will not lead to violence unless victim is not compliant
  • Not typically associated with a crime of compulsion


  • The goal is to feel powerful or gain control over an internal compulsion
  • Typically associated with crimes against person
  • Almost always pre-meditated or a crime of compulsion
  • Uncommon, but not unlikely motive in most crimes against real estate agents
  • Typically will be violent and may involve a sexual offense

Types of Criminals

Typically, an agent that has been a victim of a crime has been targeted by the criminal who committed the crime. Having a basic understanding of behavioral patterns will help you to make calm, reasoned decisions should you ever find yourself in the midst of a crime.

Violent Predators

  • Very rare
  • Very dangerous
  • Typically commit violent crimes such as rape or murder
  • All crimes are premeditated
  • Typical motive is power


  • Theft or kidnapping for ransom is how they earn a living or fund an addiction
  • Much more common than violent predators
  • Typically non-violent unless resisted
  • Typically commit theft, either from agent or items at property
  • Will likely target the property; will target an agent if profitable
  • Crimes are almost always premeditated


  • Uncommon in crimes against agents
  • Almost always a crime of property, usually theft of item in home
  • Did not come to the appointment with the intent to steal
  • A low risk, high reward opportunity may trigger the theft

In addition to the types of criminals mentioned above, there are two additional types of individuals you may run into that are worth mentioning. In both cases, the meeting is premeditated. However, the crime (if it occurs) is not.

Obsessed Individuals

  • Individual has specifically targeted you as a result of an obsession
  • Is likely having fantasies about you, typically romantic in nature
  • Will typically exhibit stalking behavior
  • Fantasizing about you and stalking you provides a "high." Meeting you takes the "high" to the next level.
  • Will likely come across as more interested in you than the property

Social Outcast

  • Individual has chosen you at random
  • Social interaction is the motivation for the meeting
  • Will likely be socially awkward
  • The meeting will likely be uncomfortable, but appropriate
  • Very rarely results in any type of crime

Read the next article in this series now: Anatomy of a Crime

Read More Articles in this Series

September is Realtor® Safety Month. Throughout the month, RE Technology will be publishing excerpts from an educational course on Realtor Safety in partnership with safety app creator Real Safe Agent. Here's the list of articles that have been published to date: