Victoria police are warning the public after Airbnb rentals in Victoria were trashed, stolen from and used for prostitution.
Investigators raised the alarm after two recent investigations.
In the first, a suspect rented a space through a rental site and allegedly trashed the suite and stole thousands of dollars worth of furnishings. The investigation is ongoing.
In the second, a prostitution ring, which exploits young women, was discovered to be renting short-term space through Airbnb. Major crime investigators are working with several agencies in an effort to identify the people involved.
Investigators suggest these simple steps to protect owners:
- 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.
Anybody with information is asked to call 250-995-7654. Information can also be anonymously provided through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).