LIVERMORE (KRON) — The city of Livermore has been grappling with an unusual spike in home burglaries but not just any homes.
Now, thieves have been targeting vacant homes for sale, which in most cases, have been staged with furniture and appliances.
At least nine such homes were broken into in December. In all of the cases, the homes had for-sale signs out in front, and every time, the thieves came in by breaking into the lock boxes.
In all of these incidents, the thieves are cutting the lock boxes and getting the keys from inside the vaults.
The properties hit have also been vacant and most have been staged.
It is where the homes are filled with furniture and electronics to give the would-be buyer an idea of what it would be like to live here.
Livermore police say the thieves aren’t taking any big pieces of furniture in these cases, but are walking away with more portable items.
“It appears that they are stealing mostly electronics like TV’s, some stereo equipment, appliances, and even…home decor, and in some cases, nothing appears to be stolen,” Livermore police spokeswoman Joanna Johnson said. “It just looks like they are squatting in the home.”
That is what happened inside Real Estate Agent Gene Williams’ listing.
Nothing was stolen, but then they had de-staged it a few weeks before.
Williams says he came in after finding out the front door was open and found evidence someone had been there–and they probably weren’t interested in buying the place.
“Upstairs, there (were) cigarettes butts on the floor, which (were) not there before, and carpeting stains…and then someone had also used the bathroom facility,” Williams said.
He says in his 38 years in the business, nothing like this has happened before.
He says he’s now hiding the lock boxes for his listings and not listing his properties as vacant on real estate websites.
Police can’t say for certain if the nine burglaries are connected.
They are processing evidence left at the scene to try and catch those responsible.