When Duncan-based realtor Brittany Pickard’s phone began to ring repeatedly late one night in November, initially she ignored it.
But when the phone rang a fourth time around 11:30 p.m., she answered, and heard a voice that sounded like a middle-aged man.
“The man on the phone proceeded to tell me he sold his place in Toronto with his wife, and he’s looking at moving to the island,” Pickard told CTV News.
Pickard said she told the man she would call him in the morning, as it was late, and ended the call.
“About five minutes later, he calls back again, and again, and then again,” she said.
Pickard eventually asked her father to answer one of the next calls, and he told the man to stop contacting her.
Then the text messages arrived.
“He proceeded to text me pornographic pictures, as well as what he wanted me to do to him, and what he wanted to do to me,” she said. “The next day, I immediately called the police.”
She also shared her experience online, hoping to warn others about what had happened. Since then, she said she’s connected with seven other female realtors in her area on Vancouver Island who also received disturbing calls and obscene messages.
“For me, it was only once, but (for) a lot of them, it’s been multiple occasions,” she said, adding that most of the woman are young, and relatively new realtors.
Pickard said some of the women have received the same graphic images. A friend of hers was sent pictures of herself.
“It’s such a violating feeling,” she said. “We are already in a job that is somewhat high risk.”
She and the other women have compiled a list of the fake phone numbers used by the caller.
“This could be someone just in their basement, just hanging out, trying to play jokes, but it could be more serious and I’m not willing to not say something,” Pickard said. “People get brave, and I didn’t want this individual to escalate to actually meeting someone.”
In Metro Vancouver, about two dozen female realtors have been targeted by someone making threatening and harassing calls over the past month, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.
Board chair Colette Gerber said the caller starts off by talking about real estate, but then becomes “abusive and aggressive.”
“It’s also text messages, WhatsApp,” she said. “There seems to be a pattern of doctored images that are really bad, threatening comments, that sort of thing.”
Gerber said the Board is encouraging realtors to call police if they are contacted by this person.
“Anytime a realtor – be it a woman or a man – is being harassed, we take that very seriously,” she said, adding it isn’t the first time something like this has happened. “We have in the past been known to hire a private investigator to help with attempting to locate the individual.”
Vancouver police spokesperson Sgt. Steve Addison confirmed investigators are looking into reports received in Vancouver.
“The Vancouver Police Department’s domestic violence and criminal harassment unit is currently investigating a number of alleged incidents,” he said. “If there’s any links between the cases we’re investigating and cases that are occurring in other areas of the province, we’ll be in communication with other police agencies about that.”
Pickard wants the harassment to stop.
“I’m hoping that ... all of us women can kind of band together and really actually make a change,” she said. “Trust your intuition. If you’re feeing something is not right, it’s probably not right.”