Bellevue Police investigating theft during Airbnb stay

Bellevue Police are investigating a bizarre theft where thieves reportedly stole everything from birth certificates to silverware, shoes, and even laundry detergent.

BELLEVUE - A warning anyone for who's ever advertised their home on the rental sharing website Airbnb.

Police in Bellevue are now investigating a bizarre theft in which thieves cleaned out a house, stealing everything from jewelry to clothing and even cleaning supplies.

No arrests have been made, but detectives say the theft took place while an Airbnb guest was staying at the home in July.

"We have contacted Airbnb and we are trying to get the name of the renter that was supposed to be staying in the resident that night," said Officer Seth Tyler with the Bellevue Police Department.  "We're working with them on that aspect of it and following up on some additional leads."

Homeowner Mehdi Buigi went by his home to check on things on the day his Airbnb guests were due to leave.  When he got there, he said he spotted several people loading his personal belongings into a waiting car.

"I couldn't believe it," said Buigi.  "Airbnb promotes heavily, if you go to their website, it says peace of mind, and basically is says everything it secure."

Buigi says the items taken included private personal documents that were locked up in a storage shed, including his marriage certificate.  Buigi says the thieves even raided his wife's closet and took clothing and most of her shoes. Items were also taken from the kitchen and the bathrooms. Even the family's laundry detergent was stolen.

"They were going to take everything," said Buigi. "I think they were going to empty the house."

When he confronted them in his driveway, Buigi says the thieves jumped in a car and took off.  That's when he called 911.

Bellevue Police say it's early in the investigation, but the theft does appear to be connected to Airbnb in some way. The guest booked a two-night stay at Buigi's home using the company's instant booking option.  According to Airbnb's website, the Instant Book listings don't require approval from the host before booking, meaning Buigi had no contact with the guests before their arrival.

"So our advice is that if you can, disable that instant booking feature," said Tyler.  "Make that prospective renter contact you, check into their past history.  It absolutely is homeowner beware when you're using these types of services.  It's up to you to make sure you properly vet who is going to be staying at your property."

KING 5 reached out to Airbnb in regards to Buigi's case.  

"Negative experiences are extremely rare, as more than 100 million guest arrivals have had safe and positive experiences on Airbnb," Airbnb Spokesman Nick Shapiro said in a statement.  "We have zero tolerance for this kind of behavior and have removed the guest from our platform.  We are working with the police on this matter and are supporting the host under our $1 million host guarantee."

Shapiro also said an Airbnb adjustor has already been to Buigi's home in Bellevue to meet with him and assess how much property was stolen.

Airbnb's Peace of Mind Guarantee says the company is committed to creating a safe and trusted community.  The guarantee says they will reimburse eligible host for damages up to $1,000,000.

Copyright 2016 KING


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