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Airbnb Burglaries are Up!

Airbnb Burglaries are Up!

Police called to a burglary!

Police called to a burglary!

Airbnb burglaries are up!  What happens if your personal items are stolen at an Airbnb?  We have read stories about travelers staying in Airbnb’s having items stolen and/or the property being burglarized.  This is not unique to Airbnb.  People have had items stolen from hotels, resorts, and houses of friends and relatives.  My own condo was broken in when one of my Best Friends was visiting from Kansas City and he had a bag stolen.  Here are some tips to avoid theft and the steps you need to take if your property is damaged or stolen.  

How to protect things of value
Take a picture of the items you packed

Take a picture of the items you packed

Take pictures of the items that you packed especially if they are of value.  You may not need pictures of your socks but you will need pictures and or receipts for your iPad, Laptop or Jewelry!  If you travel with expensive shoes (including tennis shoes i.e. Air Jordan’s) or designer purses and wallets make sure you snap a picture of it.  Preferably when you arrive and email or message it to yourself.  Keep receipts of expensive items either the original, copy or picture will do.

Below are some things that you can do that will protect you from theft and keep you safe.  Note that nothing is 100%, but these tips will reduce your chances of being a victim.

Travel Safer – 3 Car Safety Tips:
Park your car in a safe location

Park your car in a safe location

  1. Don’t leave valuables or things that look valuable in your car (Shopping bags, boxes of items you purchased, suitcases, computer bags, etc.)
  2. Park your car close to the Door or Window (Preferably where it can be seen from inside the Airbnb)
  3. Park your car under lights (Burglars like to operate in the dark.)  If necessary, leave the light on in the room with the window closest to where your car is parked. Even better if that room has a TV leave it on.  The TV will make it seem like someone is in the room.
Travel Safer – 3 Airbnb Safety Tips:
Limit the number of extra shoes, purses and jewelry you bring.

Limit the number of extra shoes, purses, and jewelry you bring.

  1. Don’t leave valuables in an Airbnb! (You have no idea who has access to the property)
  2. Don’t leave valuables in plain sight! (Most theft is smash and grab if your valuables are hidden they may miss it)
Travel Safer –  General Tips:
    1. Don’t pack more items than you truly need, especially electronic items and jewelry.
    2. Try not to travel alone, there is safety in numbers.  (Travel in groups when you can.)
    3. Travel with Costume Jewelry (You know you have real jewelry so who do you need to impress?)
    4. Limit the number of purses you bring.  Try to use 1 purse for the whole trip that you will have with you always.  (Especially high dollar designer purses they are easy targets)
    5. Make sure you have Emergency Funds (Traveler’s Checks or Emergency Credit Card)
    6.  Don’t go to Gas Stations or ATM Machines after dark or at night (Try not to go alone)
International Travel Safer – 3 Safety Tips:
  1. Tell people where you are going and where you are staying (At least one reliable person)
  2. When traveling internationally, register your Travel with the Department of State at the Smart Traveler Enrollment.  

Program STEP:  The STEP (The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) is a free service that allows U.S. citizens traveling or living abroad to enroll with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  STEP will help the U.S. Embassy to contact you and help you in an emergency.

Bonus Tips
  1.    Bonus Tip: Purchase travel insurance ahead of a trip.  Travel insurance often covers stolen items.
  2.    Bonus Tip: Keep electronic copies of your credit card and emergency numbers someplace you can get to it in an emergency.
  3.    Bonus Tip: Keep a Paper and Electronic Copy of your Passport in case yours is lost or stolen.  It is also a good idea to give an electronic copy to a friend that you can reach in case of an emergency!
What to do if your Airbnb is broken into
Crime Scene

Crime Scene

Once you notice a break in the first thing to do is leave the premises and contact the police immediately.  Go outside and or wait at a safe location for the police to arrive.  The Burglars could still be inside and you do not want to turn a burglary into a hostage situation. You must file a police report!

Second, take pictures of the area to include your stuff that is damaged or disturbed.  Take pictures of any damage and the mess that was left behind.If you can see clearly how they got in or out take pictures of that as well.  If other areas in the house have been ransacked get pictures of that too.

Third, find new lodging arrangements.  Do not worry about a refund at that time go to a safe location.  Do not stay in a place after it has been broken into.  There is a chance the Burglars may come back.  

The fourth step is to file Insurance claims. If you purchased Travel Insurance start there and you may be able to get reimbursed for your losses.  If not, then follow the steps below to obtain relief.

Filing Insurance Claims for Theft
  1. File a claim against the General Liability policy of the Airbnb Operator. If they do not have insurance then the Airbnb Operator, Management Company or Homeowner may all bear some liability.
  2. File a claim against the homeowner’s insurance policy. It is best to file you’re on the claim, but you may have to be part of the homeowners claim.  If they do not have homeowner’s insurance the Owner of the property may be liable.
  3. If you have a homeowner’s policy you may be covered for parts of your loss. Check with your insurance agent or a public adjuster (depending on your State).
  4. See if there is a Homeowners Association and see if you can file a claim through their policy. Most likely you will get stonewalled however it will put external pressure on the Homeowner to settle with you.

*Please note that you can only be reimbursed for an item once.  Once you are reimbursed for an item you must drop the claim with all other insurance companies.

If that does not work get help
Time to get a lawyer!

Time to get a lawyer!

If you have any problems with filing the insurance claims, then it is time to get a lawyer.  A lawyer will take it from there once you have tried to recover your loss and either the Operator, Homeowner or Insurance companies or not cooperating.  Personally, I have stayed in Airbnbs in Cuba, the Bahamas as well as the United States with no issues.

Stories are surfacing about travelers staying in Airbnb’s having items stolen and or the property being burglarized.  This problem is not an Airbnb. It is a societal problem.  Be prepared if something does happen so you can limit your losses.  Follow the safety tips above and hopefully, you can prevent the loss from happening.  Try to keep yourself safe and keep traveling.  Good Luck!

Alternatives to Airbnb

Black Alternatives:
Other Alternatives:
    • FlipKeyOwned by Trip Advisor
    • HomeAwayParent Company of Airbnb
    • HouseTrip – Know as the “Airbnb of Europe”

This is in no way a complete list of alternatives however it can certainly get you started.

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Bill Collins

Bill Collins is a former Army Officer turned veteran traveler. I have traveled to 34 different Countries mainly concentrated in Central & Latin America and have spent the last 16 years exploring the Caribbean Islands.

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