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Vacant properties are prime targets and the most exposed for theft. Thieves know no one is inside, so they select vacant property since there is a lower likelihood of being caught. Even if the building is completely empty of all contents, thieves may still strike to steal copper piping or other valuable building components or appliances.

That also means potential danger to your health and safety. Thieves aren’t experts in disconnecting or shutting off natural gas services. When gas appliances are stolen, and improperly disconnected, gas could build-up overnight or during the day, posing a significant risk to realtors, appraisers and construction crews when they return to the property.

Before you enter a vacant home or one under construction, do a perimeter check and peer into the windows. Does it look how you left it or does anything look misplaced or out-of-the-ordinary? This could be a sign that someone has intruded your space.

Use this helpful checklist to know what to spot, what to do and what precautions to take to prevent against theft. 

What to spot:

  • Broken Window
  • Cracked door frame or partially open door
  • Tampered locks or tiny nicks that may be hard to see, but could indicate a break-in
  • Lights that don’t turn on or are broken
  • Smell of rotten eggs or natural gas odors

What to do:

  • Do not enter the home if you thin someone has been inside since you last visited
  • Call 9-1-1 immediately
  • If you smell gas, also call DTE at 800.947.5000

What precautions to take:

  • Install security alarms before rehabbing a home, not after the project is complete
  • Ask neighbors to keep an eye out for work crews, and ask them to verify with you if those are the right crews
  • Pay attention to litter outside of the property and pick it up. Litter can serve as a signal to thieves and could be a clue that your building is a potential target
  • Don’t leave a new appliance box in front of the house. It lets thieves know there’s something worth stealing inside