After the body of missing Arkansas realtor Beverly Carter
» READ MORE: was found last month
, self-defense trainer Don Melnick’s phone began to ring off the hook.
"It got a lot of peoples' red flags going up and they started to get very concerned," Melnick said.
Melnick, who owns a branch of Krav Maga self-defense training in Cherry Hill, is about to launch a defense class specifically for real estate professionals.
The first class will be held on Monday, Nov. 3 at 2:30 p.m. at Krav Maga in Cherry Hill.
"We're teaching practical self-defense techniques," Melnick said. "We want them to feel that they can do their jobs effectively."
Melnick said the 90-minute class, which will be held the first Monday of every month, will focus on a theme each session: whether it's safety during open houses, meeting with a new client, or just general awareness tips and tricks.
"They're meeting with people they may not know and going to houses [where they may be] in situations they're not prepared for."
Melnick is collaborating with South Jersey Realtor Cathy Walters on the curriculum, who said she has wanted to start this type of class for a few years after she has had some startling experiences.
She said she had a stranger stalking her for over a year – at houses and events – and he would e-mail and call her. She got the police involved, and threatened a restraining order, and the man has since stopped bothering her.
She also experienced a potentially dangerous incident at an open house.
"A guy came to one of my open houses with a trench coat during one of the hottest days of the summer," she said. "He did not want to join the tour; he was just peeking in closets. I told him to sign in, but he refused."
Walters said she always has at least one other person with her at open houses, which she recommends all realtors do. Fortunately that day, her friend she had with her is a bouncer, and he was able to make the stranger leave.
"If people are not making eye contact with you, or if you get any kind of a weird feeling or vibe, trust your instincts," Walters said. "It's better be proactive than to be reactive."
Melnick and Walters both agreed that the most important thing is awareness in order to prevent a potentially dangerous situation from occurring.
When showing a home, Melnick suggests to be turned sideways when opening the door so that you can see more in your vision in case there's someone hiding behind you. He also said to always have the clients in front during a tour.
"Don't lead the group, have them go in front of you," he said. "You never want people behind you."
Melnick strongly suggests to do a background check on a new client before meeting with them, and to have the first meeting at a public office.
Melnick will teach many different techniques in his new class, such as the instinctive 360 defense, which blocks outside strikes.
"It's putting your hand up and blocking their arm, stepping away from the threat and counterattacking immediately," he said.
All real estate professionals are invited to attend the class. The cost is $25 per session.
"As realtors, we're always looking to protect the interest of our clients, sellers and buyers, but there comes a time that you have to protect yourself or you're not going to be good for anyone else," Walters said.
To sign up for the class, call or e-mail Don Melnick at 856-428-5728 and Don@israelikrav.com.
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