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Real estate agents face danger on the job

Alison Bowen, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Business News

CHICAGO -- Sonia Figueroa was spooked. So she decided to get a gun.

The Century 21-affiliated real estate broker has been working in Chicago for more than a decade. She knows the basics of staying safe, tactics many in the field said they follow: Let someone know where you are, don't post too many personal details online.

But this year, three unsettling incidents made Figueroa think twice about protecting herself. In February, while conducting a Facebook Live video from a vacant lot, Figueroa said she was attacked by a pit bull. Her screams were broadcast.

Then, in April, her Portage Park office was robbed. Three teenagers issued threats and took her purse, she said.

The next month, in May, while showing a client a vacant property in Avondale, Figueroa heard footsteps and conversation on the second floor. She believes it was a drug deal. All she knows for sure is that a man began running down the stairs toward where she was standing.

"I told the client, 'Oh my God, we've gotta run for it,'" she said.

 

She and her client weren't harmed, but Figueroa was fed up.

So she enrolled in a concealed carry course.

After 13 years in the industry, "I never would have thought I would be here right now, talking about guns," she said.

But staying safe in a field that involves visiting vacant homes and being present at publicly advertised events is something many in the real estate business said they often consider.

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