Person of Interest Detained Related to Disturbing Attack on Real Estate Agent

on Sep25
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A person of interest has been detained related to a disturbing attack on a real estate agent in Encino captured on surveillance video, Los Angeles police said Wednesday morning. No official arrest has been made, police said.

After video came to light of an open house visitor shoving a female real estate agent to the ground Sunday and then groping her, two other real estate agents indicated they recognize the man in the video as someone who had groped them while they were holding earlier open houses in Encino.

Police have yet to identify the middle-aged man, who moments before the attack took off his baseball cap and twice looked over his shoulder directly at a security camera.

Of the agents in the two additional incidents, one said she did not want to comment until she had been interviewed by police. The other said she felt compelled to come forward to make it known Sunday’s attack was not an isolated incident.

Video Captures Frightening Attack on Real Estate Agent

[LA] Video Captures Frightening Attack on Real Estate Agent

“When the guy took his hat off, I immediately recognized him,” said the agent, who like Sunday’s victim, wished to remain anonymous. “I was shocked he was so violent.”

She said her encounter occurred last June on the Saturday before Father’s Day, at a house only a few blocks from the location of the Sunday attack.  The man’s story about being a cabinet maker did not add up, and when he began asking personal questions, she became concerned enough to move toward the front door and encourage him to leave.

“That’s when he tried to hug me.” As she pushed him away, he grabbed her breast, then ran off, she said.

She made a point of having a colleague accompany her the following week when she returned for another open house. She was stunned to spot the man riding a bicycle past the house repeatedly. She went outside and recorded video of him, but thought it not clear enough for investigators to use to identify him, she said, and did not make a police report.

Now she sees a pattern and wants to make sure all her colleagues are aware of it. 

“I think he’s a sexual predator” targeting real estate agents in the Encino area, she said.  She suspects he does not live far away.

Real Estate Agent Attacked At Open House in Encino

[LA] Real Estate Agent Attacked At Open House in Encino

“He will be recognized,” predicted agent Manjeet Chana, who works at the same brokerage as the agent victimized Sunday.  “Hopefully before the next open house.”

Leadereship at that brokerage, Keller Williams Porter Ranch, made arrangements to bring in a self defense expert for Tuesday’s staff meeting, and devoted the entire session to precautions agents can take.  Afterwards, many purchased stun guns and pepper spray dispensers from a company called Damsel in Defense.

“Back off!” growled instructor Kathy Card as she triggered a loud “zap” from a stun gun as she demonstrated one technique for putting a would-be attacker off balance long enough to get away.

Also offering suggestions was office CEO and team leader Frank Bernardo, himself an MP while in the Army, and later a police officer before he began pursuing his real estate career. Bernardo encouraged agents to use the “buddy system” for open houses whenever possible, to direct visitors on a house tour rather than leading them, and above all to follow their instincts when something does not seem right.

In stressing the importance of situational awareness, he noted that applies to everyone, not only real estate agents.

“They shouldn’t feel afraid to do their jobs, to have their career,” he said.

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