Local realtor discusses hidden dangers of vacant houses

Local realtor discusses hidden dangers of vacant houses-1/7/21

LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) -Lawton Police are still searching for the person responsible for the murder of Andrew Franco that happened in mid-December.

At this point, they are not ruling out the possibility that someone may have been staying in the vacant house that his body was found in.

We’ve learned Franco worked for a local real estate agency, and was visiting the house to do some prep work.

There is a real danger to approaching vacant homes, something people in the realty business do all the time.

Lawton Police say it’s pretty common to find squatters who have inhabited vacant homes.

“A lot of times they kick back doors in, or they’ll bust out windows,” said Lawton Police Sgt. Matt Dimmitt. “Other times they’ll just check the doors to see if they can find one that’s unlocked.”

Realtor Joe Chesko knows firsthand what it’s like to walk into a vacant home, to a surprise guest

“I went into the front door, and all of a sudden this guy was going through the back door,” said Chesko. “And it scared me so much I left and never returned.”

It’s a real danger for people in the real estate industry, who visit vacant homes on a regular basis.

“When a bank contacts you and says hey we would like you to go to this property and check it out for us,” said Chesko. “And then you go in this house, there could be someone in there that you don’t know, and that poses a real threat against you as a person.”

For any person who needs to do business at a vacant residence, Sgt. Matt Dimmitt says there are a few things you can do to keep you safe.

“Walk around the exterior of the house before you ever go in,” said Sgt. Dimmitt. “Make sure there’s no busted windows, kicked in doors, or just open doors. The other thing I’d tell you is look in the windows before you go in. Check in the rooms and stuff. Yes, it may take an extra ten minutes, but that extra ten minutes may stop you from being assaulted or worse.”

He also if you do come across someone who isn’t supposed to be there, do not to talk to them. Instead, leave immediately and call police.

The Lawton Police Departments Community Oriented Police Division offers classes for real estate agencies or businesses that deal with vacant houses, to educate people on safety.

To sign up your business for a class, you can contact the C-O-P division.

If you have any information regarding the murder of Andrew Franco, please call Crime Stoppers at 355-INFO.

Or submit an anonymous tip on their mobile app.

Copyright 2021 Texoma News Network. All rights reserved.