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Local real estate agents have network to warn of dangers

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Real estate agent Kate Johnston says that when she has an open house, she comes prepared to protect herself. (Photo: KCPQ-TV)

SEATTLE — Real estate agents across the country and in King County are reeling over the slaying of Beverly Carter in Arkansas.

The mother and grandmother was showing a home to a man she didn’t know when she was kidnapped and murdered.

“This could happen to anyone,” said Kate Johnston with Key Realty here.

Johnston said that when she has an open house, she comes prepared to protect herself. She carries a telescoping wand and sometimes a Taser.

“I’ve got my phone in my pocket, I know where my car keys are with me and I have two ways out of a house,” she said.

For her, safety has always been paramount and even more so after Carter’s murder.

She is part of a network of realtors who share warnings, especially about predators pretending to be home buyers.

“If there’s ever a time I’m felling nervous I will leave,” she said.

Pierce County Sheriff’s detective Ed Troyer said real estate agents should trust their gut feeling: Get out of the home if somebody gives you the creeps.

"Hey, if you weren't right, all you've done is hurt somebody's feelings,” he said, adding that realtors are trained in their personal safety and know to work in pairs when possible.

“Maybe get somebody’s background information first before they go meet them and call back and check phone numbers and confirm you are actually meeting a real person with a real identity,"  Troyer suggested.

About 60 percent of realtors are women, so Kate is asking everyone to pay attention when the house next door is for sale.

"We usually will show a home in about 20 minutes, maybe 30 minutes, and then we will be out walking around. If it's longer, be the nosy neighbor and let the local authorities know and you'll help each other out,” she said.

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