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Thieves breaking into Denver homes are using real estate lockboxes to do so

Posted: 8:12 PM, May 04, 2018
Updated: 2018-05-05 02:12:12Z

DENVER -- A rash of home burglaries is possibly the result of a resistance to new technology by Denver-area realtors.

"We noticed someone was at our house on our surveillance cameras,” said Melissa Christensen. Surveillance photos from her Castle Rock home show a man and a woman breaking into her home using one of the older combination lock boxes for realtors.

Christensen’s home was for sale. She believes the thieves posed as potential buyers, watched the realtor open the lock box and then came back to burglarize the home.

"You see her in the camera walk up to my door,” Christensen said. “She knew the lock box code and entered my house without us ever approving a showing or any notification or anything."

Law enforcement confirms there have been more home burglaries using this sneaky technique.

“We are way behind,” said Todd Schuster, chairman of the board for the South Metro Denver Realtor Association. “It just makes no sense. This technology has been around for 18 years and it keeps improving. Yet, there’s such a resistance in Denver to using it. It’s being used in virtually every other metro area across the country and even in Colorado Springs and Fort Collins.”

Which is why Schuster is leading the charge in Denver.

“You have a mobile app like everything else now-a-days,” Schuster said.

Users can open the electronic boxes by either punching in a code on the box, inserting a card into the box or using an app on their phone. Once you’re within Bluetooth range of the box, you punch the code in on your phone and the box opens. It also keeps a digital log of who uses it and when.

“The listing agent and the homeowner get a notification that I am at their house,” Schuster said.

Cost isn’t an excuse either. The boxes cost only $100 each and can be reused over and over.

The South Metro Denver Realtor Association just gave members 900 new electronic boxes this week.

“I think this is going to change the way homes are being shown,” Schuster said.

“To have a little bit more security - it just means the world,” said Carrie Roethe, whose home sold after just four days on the market. Her realtor used an electronic box. “We didn't know the difference between a manual lock box and electronic until our realtor told us. When you’ve got your house on the market, you’ve got a lot of people that come through, you don’t know them and security is important.”

For Christensen it would have prevented a lot of grief.

“They never caught the thieves,” she said. “The next time I sell a house, I will request to have that specific electronic lock box.”