What to do when someone breaks into your vacant Flip Home?

10 Replies

We have completed our Flip home in the San Fernando valley area of Los Angeles and it's now for sale.  We discovered today that someone broke in last night.  It looks like they were hanging out there for a while, smoking cigarettes, using the bathroom, going through things.  They stole a few minor items.  We're afraid they might come back.  We called the police, but we're not high on their list of problems.  We're probably going to start sleeping there.  An alarm system is expensive for a short term use.

We don't need any squatters moving in!  Any advice or suggestions?

@Trevor Baker That's terrible, really sorry to hear that. How did they get in? The answer to that would help me personally focus on where I might focus my efforts.

I agree that an alarm system would be pretty pricey - I'd probably go on amazon, find some fake security camera domes, find a couple "Smile, you're on camera" signs, and put one of each up at key entry points around the property.

Side note, make sure you disclose the break-in to your end buyer once you're in escrow, in order to protect yourself.

Put some lights and maybe a TV on timers so that they come on throughout the night. Maybe an alarm clock that goes off pretty early in the morning too. Make sure that the exterior is well lit too. You can put those lights on dusk to dawn timers too.

That's awful, Trevor....did they vandalize or break anything?  My brother in law has had this happen before...he put in new copper piping and the thieves cut them out and took 'em...hvac unit, took that too....

The best deterrent is for you to camp there.  But like other members' comments above, they're are all great ideas.  Also, you can get a wireless motion sensor security cam/monitor with phone app. and that you can actually talk into it.  But I do think that requires internet connection....who knows, maybe it is worth it to have that set up given the possible damage these vandals could do to your newly fixed up property.

Thanks @Nick G. , @Garry C. & @Rick Wang for your comments and suggestions.

We spent the night there last night and nothing happened.  The police finally came over and took a report.  They dusted for fingerprints this morning.  There was no sign of forced entry.  My partner is positive that no windows or doors where left unlocked.  Our only conclusion is that someone accessed the realtor's lock box and/or someone duplicated the key.  We've had the lockbox removed and viewings are by appointment only now.

@Walter Roby jr , I'm picking up a SimpliSafe security system at Best Buy this afternoon.  I have heard of them before and they have very good reviews.  Plus, they have their own cellular transmitter, so no wi-fi is needed.  

I would replace the locks asap

Anyone could duplicate a key for like a dollar at Home Depot. It looks like whoever came in was just looking for small easy things to steal like copper pipes and such which is good, as it looks like they didn't steal that much stuff and just left cigarette butts around. People will always steal when you leave valuables around, so just be as secure as possible next time. 

Personally, I would show up to the property and drive by at random times at night for fun, and if I saw anyone in there, I would simply just call the cops.

@Trevor Baker Man, that is just terrible, so sorry. Assuming it was a blue Supra box, police can't even break into those things without major equipment (ask me how i know.) That means you either had 1. a loose key floating around, 2. a corrupt criminal with agent access who copied it, or 3. Someone that showed it but left something unlocked, and the crooks got lucky.

@Trevor Baker sorry to hear that . I live in the SFV and crime has been on the rise . I had my personal residence broken into before so I know how that is . I got the same vibe from the police about it being low priority for them .
That's good you got simplisafe I've heard good things about it. Cameras might be nice for peace of mind but then you would need internet service . They can be bought pretty cheap on Amazon or eBay . I looked into cameras that used a 4G cell signal but they were all pretty expensive.

Best of luck .

@Trevor Baker what type of lockbox did you use? The combo boxes are very easy to break into. The electronic lockboxes linked to the MLS track all agent entries and are much more secure. You can typically rent one through a flat-fee listing agent.

Hey Trevor,

Sorry that happened to you. We've had a couple of our flips broken into also. We started using the RING cameras and it seems be working so far. You can pick them up at Costco or online. 

Hope this helps.