A warning on Airbnb 

Greetings for another week,

Some of you may have noticed a Police presence near Lake Karāpiro last Friday. The incident in question was a good prompt for a message to all those Airbnb hosts in our community.

Many of the guests you host will be regulars or behave in a totally legal and acceptable way, booking your accommodation while visiting the area as a tourist, or to attend a special event or regatta. There is however a subset of people by whom an Airbnb is viewed as a base for criminal activity. These guests are most commonly associated with the manufacture or supply of illicit drugs, or dishonesty offending such as burglary or theft.  So what can you look out for?

The people in question usually book their stays online at short notice, often booking and arriving the same day or evening. Frequently, they will book for a few nights and pay in cash.  You may notice that while a booking is made for say two people, more people actually turn up, or more arrive soon after check-in. The person who books the accommodation may look presentable, providing an air of legitimacy, unlike the friends they then bring along to stay/visit with them.

If illicit drugs are involved, guests may have frequent visitors and cars coming to and from the property throughout the late morning-daytime and also night, from the time they are checked in. Despite this, you may notice that curtains/blinds remain drawn during the day hiding any activity that is going on inside.

Sometimes you may be able to smell a strong chemical or cannabis smell emanating from the property.  If you see these signs, what should you do? Police are very keen to disrupt such criminal activity, arrest offenders and deter those like them from coming into the local area. We need to know about any suspicious activity such as that outlined above. Call 111 while the people are still at the property and without alerting them to your concern. You never quite know who you are dealing with (safety first!).  Provide to Police the guests’ details, car registrations, what they have been doing and why you believe their activity is suspicious. We can then coordinate a response. From a prevention perspective consider limiting the ability of guests to book same day, or request photo ID on arrival. Install CCTV covering the access points to the accommodation.

The actions of the local Airbnb owners on Friday was spot on. Having become suspicious, they promptly contacted Police outlining in detail what was happening and who was involved. As a result local staff and a dog handler responded, with the end result being a successful one all round.  The hosts’ actions no doubt interrupted a chain of activity that would definitely have had negative consequences for our community. We appreciate their assistance in keeping Cambridge safe. Until next week, be vigilant and if in doubt, call us!

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