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Wherever you go, whatever you do, you cannot look like a victim. Be aware of your surroundings. If confronted by someone, the best thing to do is scream and run! Get away from the situation. Use physical force only as a last resort, but be ready. These are the first important tips Karen Trolan, past president of SILVAR and safety and self-defense instructor, shared with participants at last Friday’s REALTOR® Safety and Self-Dense Training.

According to Trolan, prevention is the best self-defense. Attackers look for unsuspecting vulnerable targets. “If you act like a victim, you could be one. Therefore, be prepared and follow general safety tips, like being aware of your surroundings,” said Trolan.

When it is clear that escape isn’t possible, shout, “Back off!” as loud as you can and push the attacker right away. This will surprise the attacker and let them know you are not an easy target.

Trolan explained when you are in a confrontation, you only have a few seconds and a few moves to try, so before the attacker gains full control of you, you must do everything to inflict injury so you can get away.

So Trolan, assisted by Pacific Coast Academy instructor Alex Franckx, Carla Bunch and Trolan’s husband Steve – all of whom have several black belts in jujitsu and other self-defense training, demonstrated and then practiced with the over 20 REALTORS® present how to use their hands to strike the assailant on the upper half of their body and using their fingers, palms, elbows, knees and feet, how to aim at parts of the body where they can easily do the most damage. Trolan later reviewed other REALTOR® safety tips and shared information on several safety apps REALTORS® can download that can help track their movements, vet clients, or remotely activate emergency alerts.

Trolan has been teaching SILVAR members REALTOR® safety and self-defense for the past three years because she is concerned about the rise in crime against real estate agents. There have been assaults, robberies, sexual assaults, and even murders.

“Real estate professionals are targets because they often work alone and can be in potentially dangerous situations when they are showing a home or meeting new clients who are strangers to them. Men, as well as women, have been targets,” said Trolan. “All REALTORS® should learn at least basic safety and self-defense techniques.”





Burglars continue to target vacant homes for sale in the Bay Area. Recently, there have been reports of a surge in burglaries in Livermore, where burglars hit nine homes in December. The burglars appear to have used a cutting tool to cut the lock box and get the keys to the residences. Electronics, televisions, appliances and even picture frames have been stolen from the homes, many of which have been staged.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) reminds all REALTORS® and their clients to take precautions to prevent this crime from happening to them. For your safety and that of your client, please consider taking the following precautions and share them with clients who plan to sell their home or leave their home vacant for a period of time:

  • Make the home look occupied. Use automatic timers on lights, a TV, and/or radios and set them to go on and off at different times to make your house appear occupied. Install motion detectors on the exterior of your home and garage/shed.
  • Keep curtains/blinds closed and lock all doors and windows. Use wooden stakes inside door/window frames to prevent them from being opened from the outside.
  • Keep the property maintained, grass mowed, and leaves raked. Trim trees and shrubs so they can’t conceal burglars.
  • Inform the police and trusted neighbors that the house will be vacant for an extended time.
  • Ask neighbors to keep an eye on the property and call 9-1-1 immediately if they see or hear any suspicious activity. Ask them to park their vehicle in the driveway and/or pick up fliers or circulars that may be left on the front porch, driveway, or in the newspaper box.
  • Consider installing an alarm system and/or security cameras. Keep alarms activated even if the residents have moved out.
  • Consider hiring a house sitter to prevent the home from being vacant during the selling period.
  • Refrain from putting “For Rent” or “For Sale” signs in front of your property.
  • Schedule viewings by appointment only.
  • Never leave a spare house key under doormats, flowerpots, mailboxes, or other hiding places.
  • Place the lockbox out of plain sight, so it is not easily visible to passersby.
  • Don’t place posts on social networking sites that inform others that the house is for sale.


No matter where you are or who you are with, always trust your senses because your subconscious is almost always right. This was the first important safety tip that Santa Clara County Deputy Sheriff Chad Garton shared with SILVAR members at Wednesday’s Los Gatos/Saratoga District tour meeting.

Garton, who is a U.S. veteran who served in Iraq, said trusting your instinct is also what soldiers do in combat. If you feel uneasy about a person you are with or a situation you are in, trust your gut feeling and leave that person or remove yourself from the situation.

“Your subconscious is constantly taking in information; do not ignore that,” said Garton.

Garton said REALTORS® are especially at risk because they meet strangers all the time. He shared what he termed a 5-point Contingency Plan, which those in the military also use: Let people know:
1. WHERE you are going.

2. WHO you will be meeting.

3. WHEN you will be back.

4. What to do if you don’t return.

5. The ACTION to take if they cannot contact you.

Here are other safety tips Garton shared with members:

• It may be part of your job to show your professionalism and success in the way you   dress, but be aware that people are watching you and looking for ways to steal valuables.

  • Don’t leave valuables in plain sight in your car. It only takes 17 seconds for someone to break into a car.
  • Always meet a new person in a public place and get their ID.
  • Show strength in whatever you do. When you’re walking, look around; don’t look down. Always make eye contact. Speak in a loud voice because this gives the appearance of strength.
  • Do not carry a firearm. If you have to carry a weapon, make sure you are fully trained to use it. Pepper spray and Mace are good, but you still need to train yourself to use these self-defense devices.
  • An alarm system can act as a deterrent and video cameras inside and outside the home are even better deterrents because they can identify the robbers.
  • Lock all doors and windows even if you are home. If the weather is warm, spend the extra money and turn on the air conditioner, instead of leaving windows open.
  • Refrain from announcing open houses and where you will be on social media.
  • Do not to hesitate to call 9-1-1 if they see something suspicious, or feel you are in danger.





Recent news reports about burglaries of vacant homes for sale in the Bay Area are troubling and a good reminder for REALTORS® and their clients to take precautions to prevent this crime from happening to them. Majority of recent burglaries have occurred in homes with “For Sale” signs in the front yard, or homes that are easily identifiable as being vacant. These burglars are taking large appliances, like refrigerators and stoves.

The Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® shares the following safety tips with homeowners who plan to sell their home or leave their home vacant for an extended time:

  • Make your home look occupied. Use automatic timers on lights, a TV and/or radio, and set them to go on and off at different times to make your house appear occupied.
  • Install motion detectors on the exterior of your home and garage or shed.
  • Keep curtains/blinds closed and lock all doors and windows. Use wooden stakes inside patio door/window frames to prevent them from being opened from the outside.
  • Keep your property maintained, grass mowed, and leaves raked. Trim trees and bushes so they can’t conceal burglars.
  • Inform the police and trusted neighbors that your house will be vacant for an extended time. Police may be able to patrol your neighborhood periodically and keep an eye on your property. Ask neighbors to keep an eye on the property and call 9-1-1 immediately if they see or hear any suspicious activity.
  • Ask a trusted neighbor to pick up flyers or newspapers that may be left on the front porch or driveway. Consider having a neighbor park their vehicle in your driveway while you are gone.
  • Install an alarm system and/or security cameras.
  • Consider renting your home or hiring a house sitter so the house won’t be vacant.
  • Know the risks of putting “For Rent” or “For Sale” signs in front of your property.
  • Never leave a spare house key under doormats, flowerpots, or other hiding places.
  • Don’t place posts on social media informing others that your house is for sale or that you will be away on vacation.




Karen Trolan demonstrates a move that can knock down an assailant.

Karen Trolan demonstrates a move that can knock down an assailant.

At “REALTORS® Training REALTORS®,” a free safety and self-defense training class offered by SILVAR last Friday at the Pacific Coast Academy in Los Gatos, REALTORS® trained in martial arts taught 28 real estate professionals risk awareness, safety tips, and how to protect themselves in a hostile situation.

The instructors were Laura Welch (Century 21 M&M), a jujitsu 7th degree black belt and judo 3rd degree black belt and director of Jujitsu America; Carla Bunch, (Marbella Properties), a jujitsu 5th degree black belt; and SILVAR President-elect Karen Trolan (Alain Pinel Realtors) taekwondo 2nd degree black belt, kenpo jujitsu first degree black belt, jujitsu first degree brown belt, and Shinkendo. The class was sponsored by the Jujitsu Academy.

Trolan and her colleagues were inspired to put the course together because REALTORS® are at risk every day as they meet different people. “In the last decade, hundreds of real estate professionals throughout the country have been murdered, violently assaulted, raped, beaten and robbed,” said Trolan. “Agents can be in potentially dangerous situations, but usually you can avoid becoming a victim by being aware and prepared. All REALTORS® should learn at least basic safety and self-defense techniques.”

During the class, the real estate professionals learned how to get out of dangerous situations, different ways they can hit an assailant, what can be used to defend themselves against an attack from an assailant, and ways to get out of common holds or attacks. These agents were also provided numerous safety tips and ways to be aware.

“It was great to have women, for their first time, learning how to be aware and protect themselves. The group had fun and took away good practice in these basics,” said Trolan.

Studies show 80 percent of women who fought back in an attack situation have gotten away. “We all need to be prepared, follow general safety tips, like being aware of your surroundings, knowing some self-defense moves, and taking personal security precautions,” said Trolan.


Real estate professionals practice some self-defense moves.

Real estate professionals practice some self-defense moves.

A new survey from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) found while 96 percent of REALTORS® have never been a victim of crime, more than two-thirds (40 percent) have found themselves in situations where they have feared for their safety or the safety of their personal information. Some of the most common circumstances that resulted in fearful situations were open houses, showing vacant and model homes, working with properties that were unlocked or unsecured and showing homes in remote areas.

The survey asked members how safe they feel while on the job and nearly 3,000 Realtors from across the country answered questions about their personal experiences, and the safety procedures and materials provided by their brokerage. The survey found one-third of members surveyed carry a self-defense weapon. Female REALTORS® are more likely to carry pepper spray, while male REALTORS® more commonly carry a firearm. Thirty-eight percent have participated in self-defense classes as a proactive safety measure, and 13 percent use a smart phone safety application to track their whereabouts or alert colleagues of an emergency. Also, before showing a property, the typical Realtor meets about half of their prospective buyers whom they haven’t previously met, in a real estate office or other neutral location.

Awareness, prevention and defense tactics are key to staying safe, according to Karen Trolan, president-elect of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®. This is why this month, the local trade association is sponsoring “REALTORS® Training Realtors,” a free safety and self-defense training class that will teach agents risk awareness, safety tips, and how to protect yourself and survive in a hostile situation.

“Safety is so important for agents. Because they interface with the public all the time, both female and male agents should know how to protect themselves,” said Trolan. “REALTORS® Training REALTORS®” will be held on Friday, March 27, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Pacific Coast Academy, 14170 Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos. Taught by REALTORS® Laura Welch (Century 21 M&M), Carla Bunch (Marbella Properties) and Trolan (Alain Pinel Realtors), the class is FREE, but space is limited to 45 participants. Register online at, or call (408) 200-0100.

Trolan added that awareness of potentially dangerous situations is just as important as the self-defense. “The training will focus on three important aspects of safety – awareness, prevention and self-defense,” said Trolan.

The National Association of REALTORS®, the California Association of REALTORS®, and local REALTOR® groups like the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, make safety resources and materials available to their members throughout the year. Additionally, the REALTOR® associations dedicate the entire month of September to bringing more awareness to REALTOR® safety among members.


One of the most common reasons that people find themselves in dangerous situations is that they weren’t paying attention. Take a few precious seconds during the course of your day to assess your surroundings.

Take 2 seconds when you arrive at your destination.
• Is there any questionable activity in the area?
• Are you parked in a well-lit, visible location?
• Can you be blocked in the driveway by a prospect’s vehicle?

Take 2 seconds after you step out of your car.
• Are there suspicious people around?
• Do you know exactly where you’re going?

Take 2 seconds as you walk towards your destination.
• Are people coming and going or is the area unusually quiet?
• Do you observe any obstacles or hiding places in the parking lot or along the street?
• Is anyone loitering in the area?

Take 2 seconds at the door.
• Do you have an uneasy feeling as you’re walking in?
• Is someone following you in?

Take 2 seconds as soon as you enter your destination.
• Does anything seem out of place?
• Is anyone present who shouldn’t be there or who isn’t expected?

Safety in Just 10 Seconds
It takes just 10 seconds to scope out your surroundings and spot and avoid danger. Make this “10-second scan” a habit in your everyday work as a real estate professional. Then share it with someone else.

(Source: “What You Can Do About Safety,” REALTOR® Magazine, September 2000. Courtesy Night Owl/Vector Security, Landover, MD.) This article is part of the National Association of REALTORS®’ REALTOR® Safety Resources Kit.

By now, you are aware of potential dangers that face real estate agents when they are meeting clients, showing properties or hosting open houses, and in their cars. There is one more place to consider: the office where you work. You can help safeguard your business (and your personal) property, and the safety of all who work in the office, with a few procedures and precautions:

1. Know staff in other nearby businesses and be aware of their schedules.
2. Ensure that all doors other than the main entrance are secured.
3. Make certain windows are not obscured so that passersby can see in.
4. Make sure there is a clear exit route from the service desk to the door.
5. Never allow visitors to wander freely about the business. Have the person whom they want to see come to the front office area and escort the individual to the meeting area.
6. Have a visitor log book and policy on issuing visitor tags that limit access to certain areas and hours of the day.
7. If you encounter an individual while working late or alone, indicate to that person that you are not alone. Say something like, “My supervisor will be right with you and should be able to assist you.”
8. Keep personal information private. Avoid discussing where you live, after-work or vacation plans in front of customers, new coworkers or anyone in general with whom you are not comfortable.
9. Never leave valuables, purses or wallets tucked behind counters or on desks.
10. Lock away personal letterhead and business cards to avoid use by unauthorized people.
11. Mark equipment for easy identification in the event of theft or damage. Maintain an inventory of all marked items.
12. Lock up audio/visual equipment when not in use.
13. Secure spare and master keys in locked cabinets.
14. Protect client information. Most offices keep sensitive personal information on their computers and/or in paper files—names, Social Security numbers, credit card or other account data—that identifies customers or employees. If this sensitive data falls into the wrong hands, it can lead to fraud or identity theft.

(Source: Sonoma County Crime Crushers)

This article is part of the National Association of REALTORS®’ REALTOR® Safety Resources Kit. Visit NAR’s REALTOR® Safety website at for more safety tips.

Every day REALTORS® across the nation put themselves in positions where they can be victims of dangerous crimes. The National Association of REALTORS® has designated the month of September as REALTOR® Safety Month. below are tips for our members and consumers on how to stay safe with social media.

Whether on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media sites, because of the nature of your work, you are likely to have “friends,” followers, and connections whom you don’t really know that well. Following these basic steps can help avoid exposing yourself or your data to risk through social media tools. It is vital to consider what you are sharing through the Internet.

Keep Business Separate
One way that you can make sure you are not revealing too much personal information is simple: set up a business account on each platform. Sure, anyone can figure out that Sally Field, REALTOR®, is the same person as Sally Field—but Sally will only accept requests to connect to strangers on the business account, whether Facebook or Twitter. Her personal account stays private (especially once she familiarizes herself with privacy settings), protecting her family photos, links to her kids’ pages, and personal posts from people she doesn’t know.

Tag! You’re It!
When a friend posts your photo, you may be “tagged” against your will. If you don’t want clients or others to find a reference like this—such as a less-than-flattering photo taken at a late night party—you can remove the tag and/or ask the person who posted it to do so. And be sure to follow up and ask friends to check first before tagging!

Don’t Give Away Passwords
Consider this: One way that hackers manage to crack personal passwords is by searching Facebook for easy answers. They know they may find answers to common security questions such as “What high school did you attend?” and “What are the names of your children?” So keep information about family members, household details, and past events to a minimum in order to help prevent this.

Guard Against Identity Theft
These days, anyone can find all kinds of personal information about anyone else. That doesn’t mean you have to make it easy! For example, if you who want to post your birthday, don’t include the year. (And delete any public comments that indicate your exact age.)

Tweets Are Forever
Social media usage has an impact on your safety, as well as your reputation. Carefully consider each item you share, and be aware that old posts, even if they’ve been deleted, may be copied or saved—and the Library of Congress is actually recording every single Tweet.

Safeguard Client Data
Cyber security goes much deeper than safe use of social media: As a real estate professional, you routinely keep sensitive, personal information about clients on your computer. If this information falls into the wrong hands, it can lead to fraud, identity theft, or similar harms. To avoid potential legal and liability costs of a security breach, develop a data security program based on the Federal Trade Commission’s five key principles to a sound data security program. Details can be found at

To learn about more safety strategies, and access free safety resources, including safety expert Andrew Wooten’s webinar “Social Media and Cyber Safety,” visit

(Sources: Andrew Wooten’s REALTOR® Safety webinar “Social Media and Cyber Safety”;

Last week a listing in Willow Glen was robbed of all staging furniture in the middle of the night. A few weeks ago REALTOR® Magazine reported that the Pacific West Association of REALTORS®, based in Anaheim, Calif., issued a warning to its members to be on alert after a real estate agent and a potential home buyer were robbed at gunpoint by two men during an open house.

REALTORS® are targets of crime because their work exposes them to many unfamiliar people. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, since the foreclosure crisis began in 2008, more real estate professionals have been attacked and even killed while on the job.

The 2011 Realtor Safety Report, a study conducted by AgBeat, Moby and S.A.F.E. (Safety Awareness Firearms Education), indicates the past year saw a rise in crime against REALTORS®, marked by an increase in robberies, sexual assaults and even murders. In most cases, assaults against REALTORS® took place when the victim was alone. The most common guise for getting an agent alone was requesting a tour or meeting the agent in a vacant home.

It is always good for REALTORS® to regularly visit the National Association of REALTORS® REALTOR® Safety website at and review safety tips. Below are some safety tips to keep in mind.

Showing Properties the Safe Way
• Be sure to use the lockbox property-key procedure that has been established to improve real estate agent safety. A reliable, secure lockbox system ensures keys don’t fall into the wrong hands.

• Show properties before dark. If you are going to be working after hours, advise your associate or first-line supervisor of your schedule. If you must show a property after dark, turn on all lights as you go through, and don’t lower any shades or draw curtains or blinds.

• Try and call the office once an hour to let people know where you are.

• If you think it may be some time before a property sells (and you may, therefore, be showing it often), get acquainted with a few of the immediate neighbors. You will feel better knowing they know your vehicle, and they will feel better about the stranger (you) who frequently visits their neighborhood.

• Prepare a scenario so that you can leave, or encourage someone who makes you uncomfortable to leave. Examples: Your cell phone or beeper went off and you have to call your office; you left some important information in your car; or another agent with buyers is on his way.

• When showing a property, always leave the front door unlocked for a quick exit while you and the client are inside. As you enter each room, stand near the door.

• Lock your purse in the car trunk before you arrive. Carry only non-valuable business items (except for your cell phone), and do not wear expensive jewelry or watches, or appear to be carrying large sums of money.

• Park at the curb in front of the property rather than in the driveway. You will attract much more attention running and screaming to the curb area. It is much easier to escape in your vehicle if you don’t have to back out of a driveway. Also, if you are parked in a driveway, another vehicle could purposefully or accidentally trap you.

(Sources: Louisiana REALTORS® Association; Washington Real Estate Safety Council; City of Albuquerque, NM; Nevada County Association of REALTORS®; City of Mesa, AZ)


August 2017
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