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Police in Mountain View on Monday warned Bay Area residents about people using short-term home rental services like AirBnb to set up the properties for burglary.
According to a press release issued by the Mountain View Police Department, 35-year-old robbery suspect David Lefevre rented out a home on Calderon Avenue using AirBnB in early August. However, Lefevre abruptly cancelled his reservation shortly before he was supposed to stay at the home.
Police said the apartment was subsequently burglarized and several items were taken.
On August 11, the victim at the Calderon home who was robbed called police to say he had been notified that someone had used his credit card to open an account at a local AT&T store and would be picking up a new iPhone. Police detectives met Lefevre at the store and took him into custody.
He was subsequently charges with residential burglary, possession of stolen property, identity theft, fraudulent use of a credit card and possession of another’s identity to commit identity theft. Most of the items taken from the home on Calderon Avenue were found in his car.
“It appears this is a new crime trend occurring in the Bay Area involving people renting out their homes via services such as AirBnb,” Mountain View police said in the press release. “Criminals are using these short-term rentals to steal valuables from the homeowners, cause damage to the residence, and obtain personal identifying information about the homeowners.”
Authorities offered a number of tips to avoid theft for people renting their homes for short-term on sites like AirBnb. Advice included thoroughly documenting the identity of all prospective renters, meeting renters in person and keeping all valuables in a locked room that people renting the home will not have access to during their stay.