Hiring handymen: Who are you inviting into your home?
AUSTIN, Texas (KEYE) - The Travis County Sheriff's Office is still looking for the suspect in a double murder near Lake Travis. It says Randall Burrows shot two people outside a home on Whitebead Trail on Wednesday night.
According to signage on the truck parked outside Burrows' home, he's the owner of a Lakeway business called Lakeway Chores. He advertises himself as a handyman but most of the services he offers don't require a license or a background check. Few people hiring Burrows may know he has a criminal history which, according to the sheriff's office, includes murder and aggravated assault charges.
The criminal history of a handyman is not something you'd know unless you ran a full background check yourself since independent handymen aren't a regulated industry. CBS Austin dug into what people need to know before letting anyone inside their homes.
"He just seemed to be real friendly and real talkative," says Burrows' neighbor who did not want to give her name.
According to Burrows' business website, Lakeway Chores, he's a local handyman, a father-and-son team, and has rave reviews. His neighbors know him the same way.
"He offered to come over and clean my driveway - power wash my driveway - and that was like two days ago," says the neighbor.
Burrows' under-the-radar criminal history shines light on the unregulated handyman industry and the risks people take hiring a stranger to come into their homes.
"Who is that person? What is their background and how good are they? Have they been screened?" asks Ivar Alexander, owner of Mr. Handyman, serving South Austin, downtown and Lakeway.
CBS Austin found Mr. Handyman on Angie's List. A spokesperson for Angie's List says any company advertising on its site has been background checked.
When it comes to hiring someone for odd jobs around the house, Mr. Handyman takes the guess work out of who you hire. Its technicians are all employees, not subcontractors, and they all undergo background checks, which is something you'd have to do yourself if hiring independently.
"Checks that we include are criminal history, sex offenders, and drug testing as well," explains Alexander.
Mr. Handyman says bringing someone in to work on your home is a big decision, and you'll want to know if they're trustworthy and reliable.
"Those things are critical and we want to make sure that we take the time to check who we are sending to people's houses because ultimately they represent our company," says Alexander.
If you're hiring someone with a specialty license registered with the Texas Department of Licensing and Registration - like a plumber, AC technician or electrician - then they must be registered with the state. TDLR says it does run criminal background checks on those individuals every one to two years when their licenses are renewed.
Burrows was last seen driving a 2011 white Ford Escape with Texas license plate #FVX4037. The victims in the shooting have been identified as 60-year-old Richard Guthrie and 60-year-old Susan Gulla-O'Leary. Another victim is currently hospitalized. Investigators say the shooting was over a business dispute.