Florida man allegedly assaults real estate agent minutes before open house

A 78-year-old Flagler County man has found himself behind bars after he allegedly assaulted a female real estate agent minutes before she was scheduled to host an open house. 

Carlos Da Silva of Palm Coast was arrested and charged with burglary of a dwelling with assault and battery and simple battery after the incident that unfolded on Princeton Lane in Palm Coast on Saturday morning. 

Just after 11 a.m. on Saturday, a woman called 911 saying she had just been assaulted. She told deputies, who arrived at the home shortly after, that she was in the middle of setting up for an open house when a man – later identified as Da Silva – drove by and waved at her. He passed by a few times before stopping in front of the house. 

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The woman told Da Silva that the open house wasn't scheduled for another 20 minutes, but he followed her inside the home anyway, according to the Flagler County Sheriff's Office. 

Da Silva asked the woman real estate-related questions about the home and then told her it wasn't safe for her to be alone, deputies said. 

"After offering a handshake to leave, he pulled her in tightly and began kissing her neck," deputies said. "After struggling to get free and telling him to stop, the man let her go, but took one of her business cards as he left."

The woman took a photo of the man's vehicle after he left the house and called 911. Deputies were able to identify the man as Da Silva and eventually conducted a traffic stop on nearby Wellington Drive. 

"He stopped at kissing, because she was resisting his advances, but this could have ended up much worse," Sheriff Rick Staly told FOX 35. "Once he started attacking her, she started fighting him off and telling him to stop and leave. Which is exactly what you should do."

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After changing his story a few times, Da Silva told deputies he stopped briefly in the Palm Coast area and briefly spoke to a woman. He admitted to going inside and pulling her in for a hug before leaving, according to deputies. 

The woman confirmed that Da Silva was the man who allegedly assaulted her. 

Da Silva was taken into custody and booked into the Sheriff Perry Hall Inmate Detention Facility where he remains without bond. 

"He’s a dirty old man; he’s clearly a pervert, and he’s where he belongs: in jail," Staly said. "I would be surprised if this is his first time that he has done something of this nature."

Carlos Da Silva was arrested and charged with burglary and battery. (Photo: Flagler County Sheriffs Office)

Thirty-thousand realtors reported being victims of violent crimes such as assault, sexual abuse, and robbery in 2022, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Jenny Dunn, a realtor with Stockworth Realty Group, has 13 years of real estate experience in Central Florida. Dunn gave kudos to the realtor for fighting back against her attacker.

"It’s horrifying," said Dunn. "You never want to feel like you’re going to go into your job and not be safe."

During open houses, Dunn said she recommends safety in numbers.

"When you can, co-host the event with a colleague," Dunn said. "At the very least, invite colleagues to stop by at various times during the open house."

Inviting friends and neighbors, as well as limiting open house hours also leads to increased foot traffic, which can limit your time alone inside an open house, Dunn said.  She also recommended keeping your phone charged and nearby.

According to Staly, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office offers classes to realtors about ways to protect themselves in similar situations. You can call their office at 386-313-4911 for more details.