RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond real estate agents are rethinking the way they do business after a string of nationwide attacks, including a Richmond-area sexual assault involving the host of a model home.
On Wednesday afternoon, Henrico police say 27-year-old Arnold Raphael Eason sexually assaulted a female employee working inside a model home in the 2400 block of Woodman Hills Court.
The suspect contacted the victim under the premise of viewing a home, then assaulted her. The victim was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
A short time later, police say Eason forced his way into a home in the 2700 block of Rudwick Road, and assaulted a woman by slamming her arm in the door as she tried to run away. He stole her keys and purse before fleeing in the victim’s car.
Eason was arrested and charged on Friday night.
The attacks come on the heels of the abduction and murder of an Arkansas real estate agent in September, and the sexual assault of a realtor in Philadelphia in July.
Keller Williams’ Realtor, Susan Morris, says the string of attacks has forced her team to change protocol in the way they deal with customers.
Morris says more than half of the calls to see homes, come from strangers.
“From now on, if anyone calls and we don’t know them, we have them meet us in our office first and we ask for a form of identification to find out who they are,” Morris says.
Morris says she also tracks her colleagues using a cell phone app and has encouraged her team to take safety courses. Keller Williams and the Richmond Association of Realtors are offering courses on safety.
Morris believes the precautions will help put several realtors at ease.
“Most of us are women, and a lot of the time we’re all by ourselves,” Morris says. “I don’t think anyone has ever really thought about that.”