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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – On any given day, Realtors are meeting relative strangers in empty homes. It’s a situation that more often than we’d like to imagine turns dangerous.

Last year alone there were roughly 1,000 crimes committed against Realtors nationwide, from burglary, to rape and murder. Roughly 70% of those crimes were against women. From 2003 to 2009 there was an average of 75 Realtor deaths per year.

These are crimes of opportunity .

“Safety has to come first, realtors are vulnerable,” said Chase Curlee, a Listing Partner at Amanda Howard Real Estate. “My biggest fear for my agents when they go out is something potentially could happen.”

Curlee says the greatest danger can come when Realtors don’t know who they’ll be meeting, often a result of answering last-minute calls to show a house.

“You have people who call in every day and want you to pop up and show them a property right then and there. our agents are trained not to do that,” said Curlee. “We like to get drivers licenses before they ever get in the cars or meet at the house. We like to do an initial consultation [at our office] before we do anything. It’s safer. they can put a face with a name, they know exactly who they’re meeting.”

They also seek out proof of funds before visiting properties with potential buyers.

Even with precautions like these, things happen. Curlee says Realtors need to go with their gut.

“If it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, you’re probably in a bad situation, get out. It’s not worth the money. It’s not worth the pride of staying in that property for that paycheck.”

The majority of attacks on Realtors happen to women and older men. Curlee says many agents carry mace, some even carry guns to stay protected.