Victoria BC – Investigators want to warn the public after two recent investigations involving Airbnb rentals.
In the first investigation, a suspect rented a space through a rental site and allegedly trashed the suite and stole thousands of dollars’ worth of furnishings. Our investigation into this file is ongoing.
In the second ongoing investigation, a prostitution ring which exploits young women has been discovered to be renting short-term space through Airbnb. Major Crime investigators have been working with several agencies in an effort to identify the people involved. Investigators have noted several key similarities in these types of investigations:
- The owner does not meet the renter to check them into the suite in the first instance;
- Renters’ identifications are not verified through government ID or other verification systems in place through Airbnb;
- The Airbnb app had been set to “Instant Booking”. This allows renters to book the suite at any time without verification from the owner. It is recommended to turn this feature off;
- The owner has set the rental to be available immediately;
- The owner has set the rental to be available short-term, without a minimum stay or with a very short minimum stay; and
- In some cases, the owner is using a third-party service to rent their space on their behalf.
Investigators want people who rent out their space to utilize a few simple steps to protect these young women from being exploited:
- Do not rent your Airbnb without meeting all renters at check-in;
- Verify your renters through government ID or other verification systems in place through Airbnb;
- Do not set your rental to be available immediately;
- Consider setting a minimum stay at your property;
- If you are using a third-party service to rent your space on your behalf, talk with them to ensure that they are verifying renters and not opening you and your property up to risk;
- Do not rent without taking payment in advance or via systems in place like those available through Airbnb or other, similar vendors; and
- Read renters’ reviews and ensure they have a positive history of renting from other hosts.
Both of these files are still under investigation. Anybody with information is asked to call us at 250-995-7654. Information can also be anonymously provided through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).