Lost Everything in Airbnb Theft… Inside Job?

We moved to Southern California on July 15th, 2016 and unfortunately, while staying at an Airbnb in Pasadena and looking for a permanent place, our apartment got broken into and everything we had brought with us including our passports, birth certificates, national ID cards, all our academic diplomas and transcripts, and every single immigration document we had got stolen (including the copies of them). This is in addition to the huge financial loss due to the jewelry, laptops, even specialty contact lenses being stolen. Obviously the police were immediately notified and involved. We are still in shock and I don’t think it’s something we can easily recover from. We’ve compiled the list of the items we remember that have been stolen and every day still remember some new items that are missing and realize they were in our suitcase or backpacks… The truth seems to be far from what the reviews and the Internet suggest!

Unfortunately, some of the documents are irreplaceable such as both of our undergrad and masters original transcripts and diplomas as they are issued only once in our home country. This can have a significantly negative impact on our professional lives and careers. The magnitude of the damage is beyond repair. The host and management company failed to change the lock on the unit, after the previous tenant had not returned the keys. The Airbnb host and the apartment management are telling us conflicting stories. The Airbnb host says he had asked for the locks to be changed but management denies it, as says he only asked for a duplicate key.

The apartment management claims that the security cameras were being serviced exactly in that hour when the burglary happened and thus no footage has been recorded. There was no evidence of forced entry (remember this is a gated apartment complex with a digital entrance, gated parking, and a key to the unit). These all suggest that it was an inside job. Nothing that was originally in the Airbnb property was even touched by the thief, whereas all of the stolen items belonged only to us! The property loss is about $20,000 (jewelry, laptops, bags, clothes, etc.). Financial loss is something that you can forget and recover from, however the loss of all identification documents, educational records, and most importantly the feeling of having been violated this way, is something that will be haunting us for a long time. We firmly believe the people who caused this need to pay for it and make sure this does not happen to anyone else…

We believe Airbnb should have done something to make sure any apartment that is being rented using Airbnb’s name is a safe place and that if a tenant does not return a key, that it is immediately reported, and the unit made unavailable as soon as possible. I hope this will not happen to anyone else!

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One Comment

  1. Sorry this happened to you, and even more sorry to have to tell you that Airbnb could care less about the people who rent from them. Their only source of concern is the host, and that’s only because they’re the ones with the place to rent, which Airbnb skims “service fees” off of to make their billions.

    Airbnb is just an online platform with no actual product. They’re just a jazzed up Craigslist, that’s all. The sooner people realise this and stop doing business with them, the sooner this real estate bloodsucker will go away.

    I’ve been put through so many dangerous scenarios with Airbnb places, and I always pay a good chunk of my money AND look for the best areas, but have also been put through various versions of hell.

    Hope you can pick up the pieces and move on, but do lodge a complaint with the CA housing authority, the District Attorney’s office, and so on. And report them to Better Business Bureau.

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