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Real estate agents 'doubling down' on safety precautions after fatal shooting

Real estate agents 'doubling down' on safety precautions after fatal shooting

The shooting death of a local real estate agent has sparked extra measures by Omaha’s real estate community to keep its workforce protected.

Training and techie tools aimed at agent safety already are the norm, local industry leaders say, for a business vulnerable to stranger danger.

But, they say, the fatal shooting of Mickey Sodoro while he was on the job has served as a reminder to keep up one’s guard and preparedness.

“It’s that ‘Oh crap’ kind of moment that we need to be doing more,” said Andy Alloway, president of the Nebraska Realtors Association and owner of Nebraska Realty.

At NP Dodge Real Estate, agents are being offered additional safety training, said Mike Riedmann, who heads the residential sales division. The company plans to bring in experts to talk about the latest technology that assists with such things as background checks and location sharing.

“We encourage them to have a whole quiver of tools to make sure they’re well prepared,” said Riedmann, who worked with and knew Sodoro.

Alloway said the industry offers safety kits and guidance, and devotes an entire month each year to safety. Still, he said, recommended precautions sometimes take a back seat, especially in today’s fast-moving and competitive market where agents must act quickly to clinch a deal.

At Nebraska Realty, Alloway said, a new volunteer safety council met last week to review and strengthen ways agents protect themselves. For example, the group will beef up a network of agents willing to tag along with a colleague showing a house to a person he or she hasn’t met.

Bill Swanson, president of the Omaha Area Board of Realtors, said the profession wants to send a message: Don’t be offended if an agent asks for identification or to meet initially at a public place. It’s just being cautious, he said.

Riedmann described Sodoro, 70, as a savvy, streetwise and seasoned agent who followed safety procedures. A second person did not accompany Sodoro on Dec. 28 when he went to exchange keys and payment on a rental house near 193rd and Q Streets, Riedmann said, adding that’s something agents should consider.

Douglas County sheriff’s investigators found Sodoro’s body in the garage crawl space of the rental home. Ross Lorello III is being held without bail, accused of shooting Sodoro at close range in the back of the head.

The Sheriff’s Office has not released a motive.

Riedmann and Alloway said they don’t sense fear from agents as they pursue their work. They said people enter the profession aware of possible dangers, though they said the tragedy of a peer’s death has increased vigilance.

“Everybody is doubling down on efforts to follow protocols and procedures necessary to ensure their safety,” Riedmann said.

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Cindy covers housing, commercial real estate development and more for The World-Herald. Follow her on Twitter @cgonzalez_owh. Phone: 402-444-1224.

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