Palo Alto Airbnb owner robbed twice after crashing party in his own rental

Thursday, October 3, 2019
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Police in Palo Alto are asking for the public's help as they try to track down a group of suspects who robbed a man two times in his own Airbnb rental.

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- Police in Palo Alto are asking for the public's help as they try to track down a group of suspects who robbed a man two times in his own Airbnb rental.

"Palo Alto has many many flavors, but this specific neighborhood is very, very quiet," said Tamar Bar, on her tree-lined street, with single-family homes and a few small apartments.

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But the neighborhood was not quiet on Saturday night when someone threw a party inside an Airbnb rental on Tennyson Avenue that was attended by about 40 people.

Tamar Bar lives right next door. "We just heard a lot of noises, commotion, we had to come out. It wasn't clear what was going on, I thought people were fighting."

Around midnight, the owner of the home showed up to the house, when he received a notification that his smoke alarm had been activated.

Police say he was surprised to see a party when he rented his home to only two people.

"He's going from room to room, trying to get people to leave. He's in a bedroom and he's approached by two male suspects. They push him to the ground, they take his wallet and they also take his cell phone," said Janine De la Vega, the public affairs manager for the Palo Alto Police Department.

Another party guest helped the homeowner retrieve his belongings, at which point, the homeowner called Airbnb, which instructed him to call 911.

"He calls the police and as that's happening, another male suspect goes and pushes him to the ground, this time taking his cell again and stealing a wad of cash that's in his front pants pocket," said De la Vega.

Police showed up, but all three suspects, described as men in their early 20's, were gone.

The Tennyson Avenue house is still listed on Airbnb for $328 a night.

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Palo Alto City officials confirmed Wednesday night that short term rentals, less than 30 days, are illegal in the city.

Kate Larsen: "Did you know that your neighbor put his house on Airbnb?

Tamar Bar: "We guessed. Every day somebody else was coming in and out. There were different cars, different people, literally every day."

Airbnb is aware of the incident and sent ABC7 a statement that says:

"The reported behavior is appalling, and we have removed the booking guest from the Airbnb community. We are providing our full support to our host at this time, and we have proactively reached out to Palo Alto Police to offer our assistance in their investigation.Background:

  • The overwhelming majority of Airbnb hosts and guests are good neighbors and respectful travelers, and with nearly two million guests checking in to Airbnb listings each night, incidents such as this are extremely rare.
  • Airbnb provides $1 million in property damage protection for free on every booking, and we are working with our host to support him in filing a claim. More context on Airbnb's $1 Million Host Guarantee can be found Airbnb users must abide by Airbnb's Community Standards, which among other things include:
  • Misrepresenting yourself: You should not provide a false name or date of birth, use listings for commercial purposes without your host's permission, have events or parties without your host's approval, maintain duplicate accounts, or create an account if you're under 18.
  • Harming yourself or others: You should not commit physical or sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, domestic violence, robbery, human trafficking, other acts of violence, or hold anyone against their will. Members of dangerous organizations, including terrorist, organized criminal, and violent racist groups, are not welcome in this community.
  • Airbnb is committed to working with law enforcement as appropriate and responding to valid law enforcement requests.