Ian Mackay, president of the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board, said realtors should be on the alert after a realtor from Duncan and more than two dozen on the mainland reported being sexually harassed by phone and text. (File photo)

Ian Mackay, president of the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board, said realtors should be on the alert after a realtor from Duncan and more than two dozen on the mainland reported being sexually harassed by phone and text. (File photo)

Vancouver Island realtor sexually harassed on phone, texts

Island woman among dozens of realtors in B.C. being targeted by similar behaviour

A realtor in Duncan is one of more than two dozen realtors in B.C. who are being victimized with texts and phone calls that are sexual in nature.

All the realtors are women, with most living in the Lower Mainland.

The Duncan realtor is remaining anonymous for safety reasons, but Vancouver Island Real Estate Board president Ian Mackay said she informed the board and the RCMP of the ongoing harassment last week.

Mackay said that, in his experience, this type of harassment is “quite unusual”, but in the age of instant and easy communications, it’s not just members of the real estate industry that are experiencing such abuse.

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“It’s easy for any nut to get on a phone or some other device and reach out to whoever they want,” he said.“But it tends to be easier to connect realtors as they publish all of their contact information as part of their careers.

“We have had no other reports like this from any other realtor on Vancouver Island up to this point, but if any realtors find they are being similarly harassed, they should immediately get in touch with the police and, hopefully, they will find out who is responsible.”

Mackay said it’s disconcerting that the harassment of the realtors is occurring so close to the anniversary of the death of 24-year-old realtor Lindsay Buziak, who was stabbed and killed on Feb. 2, 2008, while showing an empty home in Saanich. The case has not yet been solved.

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“Like all things, time erodes memory and many realtors have let their guards down since then,” Mackay said.

“We remind realtors that they should always be hyper vigilant and don’t ever put themselves at risk.”

Mackay said VIREB and other realtor agencies have protocols for realtors to protect themselves, which includes a list of “best practices” that encourages them to record who they are seeing during an appointment, when and where they are meeting, and when they plan to return.

He said realtors also have access to an alert system on an app that can just be touched when the realtor find themselves in uncomfortable or threatening situations, and help will be quickly on the way.

Mackay said there is also a “chivalry program” where male realtors will escort female realtors on a house showing if they feel uncomfortable.

“The security of our realtors is in the forefront of our minds,” Mackay said. “We encourage them to never put themselves in any kind of danger.”

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robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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