How To Lose $8000 and Two Months of Your Life

Ill start off by saying this was the first time I used Airbnb, and it was the last. This past January, my boyfriend and I traveled to New Zealand (for two weeks) with a few friends to go on tour for his music. On our third day of the trip, we started off by visiting a local beach since it was a perfect summer day. We eventually made it to Hamilton, the town where my boyfriend (Joey, AKA Hoody Time) was performing and where I booked the Airbnb. I looked at the message from the host to see if there was a chance we wouldn’t meet her that night and to use the lock box to get the key. We got into the unit, set our stuff down, and relaxed before we had to take off to the venue. We had the front sliding door open for some fresh air when two men, one on a bike, walked by our unit and began chatting with us. They looked like the lived in the building and were just saying hi. Joey invited the locals to our show.

Later that evening we left for the show, locked up the apartment, and never thought twice about anything. Around 1:00 AM we returned to the apartment to find all our backpacks were gone with our laptops, cameras, clothes, money, even my medication and birth control. We all began to panic and then Joey realized that the kitchen window was broken and ripped wide open. We called the police and Airbnb right away. We told them everything that was going on. Airbnb had told me that this was “not common” and they would pay for a hotel for the night if I wanted. I simply told them no because I didn’t want to start looking for a hotel at 2:00 in the morning. I then called the host to tell her that the place had been broken into and robbed, and her only response (in a calm voice) was “Oh wow, I’m sorry, ummm… I’ll try to be there as soon as possible in the morning.”

No one could calm down or fall asleep until 4:00 AM. The police told us they would send their investigation team in the morning and to not touch anything that could have fingerprints on it. By 8:00 AM we were all up. No one could sleep and we had to be on the road by 10 latest, to make it to our next location in time. I again called the host to ask where she was and when she will get here. Her response once again: “I’m so sorry this happened it’s not common. Ummm… I’ll try to be there as soon as I can.” I began to get annoyed since we told her we had to leave, and she showed no urge or concern about what had happened.

By 10:00 AM we left. I had once again called the police and Airbnb to tell them we had to go, both said it was okay and we left. The police told us to leave everything as is since it was a crime scene. Later that evening we had decided to cancel our Airbnb in Wellington and stay at a hotel instead. We all felt so vulnerable. As I was laying down to take a nap and catch up on sleep, my phone beeped with a new email from Airbnb. I opened it up and became angry immediately. The host had requested $300 for damages that she claimed we were responsible for. She had a long list of damaged items and stolen adapters and claimed we left shrimp tails in the kitchen kettle (no one ate shrimp that day). Enraged, I called Airbnb to tell them this was absolutely absurd and if I see one penny taken from my card I was going to call my bank and tell them it was fraud. We literally had been robbed less then 24 hours ago and she had the nerve to claim we did something. I called the police to update them on the situation and decided I needed to take a break from this whole thing for the rest of the night.

The next morning we all woke up feeling down. How could we not? Our whole lives were stolen. Three laptops were stolen, from three of us who freelance and now have a loss of wages while on the road. This is where things get good. We saw in the news a sunglasses store had been robbed the same night, and the guys were caught on CCTV. To our surprise, the guys we had been taking to the night of the robbery were the guys in the photos robbing the store. Then Joey got a phone call from the police with an update, but it wasn’t good. The detective and forensic team showed up to the apartment to find the host and her husband had fixed the window and cleaned the whole place up already. Airbnb’s policy – as well as the police’s and just common sense – is to not touch a crime scene. Within minutes of hearing the detective saying they couldn’t do much now, I called Airbnb to let them have it: “How could you let your host get away with this? Now we are thinking she is in on it!”

Weeks went by of going back and forth with the police for a formal police report since Airbnb was hassling me for one. In the meantime, the host had written a nasty review on me, filling it with lies, claiming it was weird she never met us and we took off. While I wrote responses, Airbnb removed them as this was an “ongoing investigation.” Finally, I got the police report. Not once, but twice did it say that the investigation couldn’t be completed as the host had cleaned up the place and fixed the damages. Now we couldn’t even have a chance in finding the robbers and maybe getting our stuff back.

Once Airbnb got the report, they called me to let me know that my case was closed because they got what they needed and that was the end of things. When asked what will happen with the host, “We will have a talk with her and tell her to handle things differently next time.” Next time? Not once was I given help or aid from Airbnb. They returned any money that was put down for a Airbnb in New Zealand, and when they asked for the receipts for a hotel we stayed in so they could reimburse me, they never even paid me back for it. So that was an extra $600 NZ. We have tweeted at Airbnb and the CEO multiple times and received nothing but a robotic response. Our only option is to now try and sue Airbnb or the host. In total, we are out $7000 in things that got robbed, $1500 in lost wages, and $600 in hotels that replaced Airbnb. I’m sick to my stomach over this whole thing. I have heard too many horror stories from both guests and hosts. I will never use Airbnb again.

Side note: My reviews were never put back up.

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5 Comments

  1. PS – the idea of suing Airbnb or the host to get back goods that were stolen by someone else (who you can’t prove did it, and on a property you willingly vacated before the police showed up !!) is frankly just impossible. Face up to the fact that your decisions to leave before the police showed up were your fault, and your fault alone. You should have insisted the police come out early in the AM to take the police report or gone down to the station yourselves. The owner did not force you to leave, and if the owner had other rentals coming in and the police did not show up that AM, then they would have had to clean the place in order to take the next rental. Airbnb is terrible to hosts — if the host was to cancel the next reservation (assuming they had someone arriving the day you left) then the host is punished by Airbnb for a whole YEAR on their listing. And you have no actual way to prove the owner was in on the theft and are just making suppositions about it. The people on bikes were probably casing the neighbourhood and knew there were rental units in the area (easy to rip off). That does not mean they were working with the host – that is pretty much slander, and that is probably why Airbnb can not keep the review on their ad. The host cannot be blamed for being robbed really – and you only suspect they were involved. If you cared so much about how much you lost, then one person in the group should have waited for the police. This is why people buy travel insurance …

    • We did file a police report, you should have read the story better. The host wiped the place clean of any evidence which makes her look fishy. I did everything right, the day of the incident according to Airbnb and the police. What makes me upset is that they just give a warning to the host and no investigation.

  2. Guess what – while I feel for you, Airbnb does NOT owe you money for stolen items. You are supposed to have TRAVEL INSURANCE for coverage of items being stolen while travelling !!
    And when a crime happens, it interrupts people’s lives. You should have filled out a police report to say what was stolen and damaged, and taken a copy. Yes that takes time — but that is what the law says you must do. Then you have a trace of what happened. Someone of the group should have stayed behind to deal with the police if your stolen stuff meant that much to you. The owner of the apartment needed that police report to also claim on HER insurance for damages. By not being there – how can she do that ?
    This is one case where Airbnb is actually not at fault. I have a lot of negative things to say about Airbnb but in this case — this is not “THEIR” property – it is the property owner’s place. Your insurance and her insurance are who need to take care of this, and if you cared about getting your stolen stuff back then sticking around for the police to show up is the minimum that you MUST do.

  3. Wow, I’m really sorry. I didn’t think anything could be worse than the experience I had with Airbnb recently, but this just might be.

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