News


Party at Airbnb rental goes awry when three men rob property owner

Resident knocked down twice, including while attempting to call 911

A man who owns an Airbnb property in Palo Alto was robbed twice by three people after he found a large party in full swing at his rental early Sunday morning, police said Wednesday.

The man went to the residence on Tennyson Avenue near Alma Street, not far from Peers Park, around 12:30 a.m. after receiving notifications about an activated smoke alarm, according to a police press release. Instead of finding two people renting the home for the night, the property was filled with about 40 people attending a party.

The man, who's in his 60s, started asking people to leave, but some ignored his request. As he stepped inside a bedroom, two men pushed him to the ground, then stole his wallet and cellphone before they fled, police said. A person attending the party helped the homeowner retrieve the items.

As the resident dialed 911, a third man pushed him down, then took his cellphone and money from his front pants pocket before running away, police said. The homeowner wasn't injured.

Officers responded to the home at about 1:45 a.m., Sunday after police dispatch received a 911 hang-up call.

All three robbers are described as black men who are between 20 and 25 years old. The third man stood about 5 feet, 10 inches tall, weighed between 160 and 170 pounds and had black hair and brown eyes. He wore a dark-colored sweat jacket and orange pants.

"The reported behavior is appalling, and we have removed the booking guest from the Airbnb community," Airbnb officials said in a statement provided to the Weekly. "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."

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to paloalto@tipnow.org or sent by text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through the police's free mobile app, downloadable at bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.

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Comments

55 people like this
Posted by Family Friendly
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 2, 2019 at 12:08 pm

Unfortunate, but unsurprising. Many municipalities are banning Arbnb.

The real victims here are his neighbors.


Like this comment
Posted by Fool me — you can't get fooled again
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Oct 2, 2019 at 12:22 pm

> was robbed twice by three people

Because the first time wasn't enough of a clue?


12 people like this
Posted by 100% Expected
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 2, 2019 at 1:08 pm

It won't happen all the time, but it will continue to happen. That's a 100% lock. Guaranteed.
Yay! Air B&B!


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2019 at 1:11 pm

Questions. Is there a rule that rental properties cannot have parties? Is there a rule that AirBnB properties cannot have parties.

What about a rule about whether the owner/landlord can enter a property without invitation in the middle of the night?

This sounds very bad to me as being the victim of a crime, but where does he stand in law? Being a victim of theft is not fair for the owner, but where does he stand legally about his presence in the home. Could he perhaps have been mistaken for an intruder?


12 people like this
Posted by zap
a resident of another community
on Oct 2, 2019 at 1:19 pm

First mistake...not calling 911 when he saw the party. Perhaps even when he got the smoke alarm

And those must be the calmest neighbors in the history of Palo Alto-even the dry years- to have ignored the party


47 people like this
Posted by Ace
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2019 at 1:31 pm

Airbnb rentals are technically illegal in Palo Alto. That’s probably why the owner didn’t call the police. There are noise ordinances as well. Theft is a crime and isn’t justified by anything the Landlord did.

This is yet another example of many areas of our society where a few people take advantage and ruin things for everybody else. The person who held the party should be ashamed.


14 people like this
Posted by Airbnb Parties Can Be A Nuisance
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 2, 2019 at 1:47 pm

Airbnb & motel rooms are often rented for after-hours parties, especially on weekends. They can get incredibly loud & congested with party-goers once word on the street is out.

Best not to confront the revelers...simply call the police. This not considered a 911 emergency so expect a 15-20 minute response time.


18 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 2, 2019 at 2:19 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Airb&b are literally ruing residential towns such as Palo Alto.


9 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 2, 2019 at 2:29 pm

^ Apparently there are many who literally rue Palo Alto.


28 people like this
Posted by YP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 2, 2019 at 3:48 pm

YP is a registered user.

I have little or no sympathy for people who use Airbnb to rent out their house. They must know that not always but often they are used for parties or large gatherings and thus they are being completely disrespectful to their neighbors. So when something like this happens , I get a good chuckle and say you got what you were deserved!!


17 people like this
Posted by Local
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 2, 2019 at 5:12 pm

Divine justice - I wish this happened more often. Renting to AirBnB curses your neighbors, so the more houses get trashed by parties the better. Ban AirBnBs people will rent to AirBnB.


10 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 2, 2019 at 6:08 pm

Sounds awful! I oppose AirBnB and have read of numerous incidents whereby property gets damaged, neighborhood security is at risk, parking is clogged and I suspect owners don’t report their “earnings” to the IRS.
Beyond the general neighborhood, residents and/or tenants in the situation of a secure building get placed at risk while rogue owners (or tenants) essentially sublet, often in violation of building , community, city laws and rules. It’s too much.


4 people like this
Posted by citizen
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 2, 2019 at 6:54 pm

[Post removed.]


19 people like this
Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 2, 2019 at 7:35 pm

Renting out your property on "Airbnb" or other scofflaw sites is a terrible idea for many reasons, the worst is the damage that is done to neighbors and to the entire community. Please think twice about putting your property up. If you want to rent your property, there are many families that would love to rent it on a one year lease, who will contribute to the community instead of destroying it.


10 people like this
Posted by Repeal Prop 13
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 2, 2019 at 9:21 pm

The vitriol towards AirBnB is despicable. The fact that the government of California forces regressive taxes on the poor and middle class in order to subsidize California homeowners and then these same homeowners demand the outlawing of renting private property is absurd.

The ruling class of wealthy land owners dictating to others what they can and cannot do in the privacy of their own homes. Sounds as un-American as anything I can imagine.


6 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 2, 2019 at 9:33 pm

Are there any motels around here that will rent a room to a local person?
I hear that motels will generally refuse locals, because only reason to rent a room locally is you don't want your wild party to trash your own place, or are otherwise hiding nefarious activity. Plenty of horror stories on the web. Makes it difficult to find a room while your home is being fumigated for termites.


36 people like this
Posted by Airbnb
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 2, 2019 at 10:17 pm

I do feel sorry for the owner, who certainly did not deserve to have his home damaged and property stolen. However, since rentals for less than 30 days (consistent with most Airbnb rentals) are illegal in Palo Alto. Perhaps this rule should be enforced for the benefit of neighbors, who are negatively impacted by short-term rentals, as well as for protection of the owners, themselves.


21 people like this
Posted by Oldpa
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 3, 2019 at 7:28 am

AirBnB isn’t echnically illegal in Palo Alto. It is outright illegal

Housing is to be rented for a minimum of 30 days. The city needs to start enforcing the law. We need the housing. Not the hotels in the middle of residential neighborhoods.


16 people like this
Posted by B. Wiser
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 3, 2019 at 7:32 am

Alternate Title: Palo Altan becomes conservative overnight


8 people like this
Posted by Lauren
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 3, 2019 at 8:56 am

The person who booked the Airbnb should be getting a call from the PAPD real soon. On top of that should have to pay for all the damages. These Millennials think they are off the hook. Think twice. Stupid and no respect. Dangerous combo.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 3, 2019 at 10:11 am

Posted by B. Wiser, a resident of Community Center

>> Alternate Title: Palo Altan becomes conservative overnight

In which sense of "conservative"?


10 people like this
Posted by What a fool
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 3, 2019 at 11:18 am

The stupidly of renting out your home to strangers on the internet is debatable.

But confronting those strangers at 2 a.m. when things go wrong is beyond foolish.

It’s no wonder the guy got beat up. Twice.

He should have called the cops instead of confronting strangers, even though it is his house.


15 people like this
Posted by Air B&B Illegal in PA??
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 3, 2019 at 11:24 am

So if I were to go onto Air B&B and found Palo alto listings, these are in violation?
Can we turn these people in?


6 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 3, 2019 at 11:59 am

^ Yeah, just like leaf blowers.


31 people like this
Posted by Contact the Air B&B Palo Alto listings
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 3, 2019 at 12:46 pm

Let the owners know they are in violation and copy the palo alto police.
We are free to also take them to court should the situation warrent.
They haven';t got a legal leg to stand on.
It's like having a dog off leash when they do something harmful;. The iowner will lose always.

Lets get rid of this problematic issue. They are LITERALLY advertising where they are. Let's let them know we know they are here violating the law.


3 people like this
Posted by Names-Please
a resident of another community
on Oct 3, 2019 at 1:13 pm

Wonder if the names and city of residence of the people who rented this place will be published by any of the local papers? Giving those people anonymity doesn't seem like a good thing. People in other towns who rent would doubtless like to know who these people are so that should they show up in another town with the same plan homeowners will be aware and not rent to them.


28 people like this
Posted by Thanks Palo Alto, but is it goodbye?
a resident of Monroe Park
on Oct 3, 2019 at 1:49 pm

I am a retired widower, and live on social security. With my wife's income gone, I could not afford to live here after almost 40 years of being involved and active in the community if it were not for the ability to rent out a room on Air Bnb. It has never been a problem - the guests are always quiet and considerate. They do not jam up parking (I have a driveway), are considerate, and do not make noise. I pay both Palo Alto occupancy tax (I believe PA makes over a $1.5 million from Air BnB) and income tax. With Air BnB I can stay in Palo Alto and keep the room available for when my children come to visit. It would be a disaster to take this away from me.


14 people like this
Posted by Operating outside the law?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 3, 2019 at 2:34 pm

[Post removed.]


10 people like this
Posted by hm
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 3, 2019 at 6:09 pm

I see no problem with renting out spare rooms of the house you live in on airbnb. I imagine this was the original intention from the term "host". The problem is when entire homes are rented out on airbnb instead of to families. 2 of which I live by and are pretty empty during the off season. Kind of sad when you walk by.


8 people like this
Posted by YP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 3, 2019 at 6:29 pm

YP is a registered user.

well good to see the liberal editors at Palo Alto Online haven't deleted half the comments they usually do..


5 people like this
Posted by Rose
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 3, 2019 at 7:00 pm

Rose is a registered user.

It's too easy to fly into a rage about a negative story like this and not read anything to provide a counterbalance. I have used AirBnBs in NYC and Tucson and in many other countries. All my experiences have been extremely positive. Sometimes the owner is in the house or apartment and I have a bedroom. Most recently in NYC, I had a small apartment to myself. I'm courteous and quiet. But given this is REAL life, sometimes an AirBnB host will get someone careless, dishonest, or worse. Please remember that MOST of the time an AirBnB renter is just a normal person like we are. I would much rather stay in an AirBnb than a boring hotel.


15 people like this
Posted by Be Street Smart
a resident of University South
on Oct 3, 2019 at 7:08 pm

I find that amongst all the Ivy League and elite school degrees here in Palo Alto, they often fail to have street smarts and common sense like the rest of society. A neighbor who has an MIT degree (and all the children attended MIT and other elite colleges) rented their rooms out and it got trashed, they eventually had to pay tens of thousand to have them move out.

Another neighbor engaged in airbnb renting and the house got trashed too. These airbnb renters are transients, why would anyone rent to them?

Our MIT neighbor just rented to male Stanford students. Students do not care about cleanliness and mold. Don't be fooled by the "Stanford" name, college male students are oftentimes slobs. Rent to nice families with children!

And why would anyone rent instead of staying in a business? The owners can hook up cameras in the house.

It's all foolish behavior but some people have tunnel vision because they have read too many books.


6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 3, 2019 at 7:55 pm

I have friends, an empty nester couple, who have a sizeable home in a nice situation, not in Palo Alto I may add and are semi retired. They have started taking in AirBnB guests on a short term basis, usually 3 or 4 nights. They have a beautiful guest room with private bath and provide a cooked breakfast the next day with an option of ordering a bag lunch for the guests day of sightseeing. They do not do an evening meal, but have a list of local restaurants which they recommend.

This has become more of a hobby for them. They take in guests a couple of times a month and enjoy getting to know them. They have made good friends from all over the world in the 3 years or so they have been doing this.

I think it is important to understand that all AirBnB rentals are not the same. Some do it for the money, some do it for the companionship, some do it for the pleasure they get from meeting new people.


28 people like this
Posted by Nick
a resident of another community
on Oct 3, 2019 at 9:45 pm

Airbnb is nothing but trouble. The real victims ARE the neighbors. Nobody does Airbnb as a "hobby." That's ridiculous. They ALL do it for the money. If it was a hobby, they'd let you stay for free.


5 people like this
Posted by Arnold Ziffel
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 5, 2019 at 8:07 am

Part of the problem is in Airbnb rules against discrimination. If an owner can’t use their instinct to avert problems there will be problems..


Like this comment
Posted by Warren
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 5, 2019 at 1:22 pm

I have a house I rent on Airbnb. Whenever Stanford has alumni reunions I have concerns. If the graduates are under 50 they think they’re immature freshmen. I’d much rather rent to nice Chinese families.


1 person likes this
Posted by An AirBnB Host
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Oct 5, 2019 at 2:35 pm

Hosts are protected in the event of any large damages to their place.

Guests have a credit card on file when they make a reservations.

AirBnB is built on trust between guests & hosts.

This host could have easily acted differently & avoided the whole situation he wound up in.

More than likely, the guests would have cleaned the place up & not left any evidence of a party.

The homeowner was confrontational. Non-violent, but still confrontational.

There is a much better way to handle this sort of thing without so much drama & potential harm to the people involved.

Let that be a lesson to him.


3 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2019 at 2:52 pm

Posted by An AirBnB Host, a resident of Los Altos Hills

>> Guests have a credit card on file when they make a reservations.

So, whose credit card was on file in this case?

>> AirBnB is built on trust between guests & hosts.

Trust that the guests violated. Apparently the host was a slow learner in that he gave them a second chance. Should have called the police in the first place.

>> This host could have easily acted differently & avoided the whole situation he wound up in.

Blaming the victim always works.

>> More than likely, the guests would have cleaned the place up & not left any evidence of a party.

Or, not.

>> The homeowner was confrontational. Non-violent, but still confrontational.

He thought they were "guests". I guess not.

>> There is a much better way to handle this sort of thing without so much drama & potential harm to the people involved.

1) Don't be an AirBnB host to begin with.

2) Call the police.

>> Let that be a lesson to him.

Blaming the victim again. My suggestion to him is simple: If you want to be an AirBnB host, you apparently have to expect this kind of thing, and, you won't get any sympathy. You really don't know any more about your guests than Motel 6 knows about its guests.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2019 at 3:56 pm

To Nick from another community.

Yes, my friends do AirBnB as a hobby. As a semi retired couple they enjoy meeting people and they enjoy hosting guests. Both enjoy getting ready for guests, and it gives them the excuse for keeping the house tidy and using their best table linen and dishes. The money they charge for bed and breakfast probably covers their expenses but is definitely not enough to supplement their income.

All AirBnB rentals are not the same, the hosts are not the same and probably the guests are not the same. Don't lump them altogether. It is not fair on those who play by the rules.


6 people like this
Posted by Nick
a resident of another community
on Oct 5, 2019 at 7:55 pm

To Resident from the Palo Alto Community:

Will you ask them if my wife and I can stay for free? Or maybe donate the rental income to charity. Give me a break.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2019 at 7:36 am

Nick

As I said, their charge basically covers the costs to them. They have tea/coffee biscuits in the room, a full cooked breakfast, eggs, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, toast, marmalade, etc. I could send you a link but you would have to pay for the flight and car rental!


18 people like this
Posted by Housing Hawk
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 7, 2019 at 7:47 am

All the housing advocates are looking the other way as these short term (lucrative) rentals gobble up housing stock in our city. This is another case of Palo Alto not enforcing the laws and ordinances already on the books. If running a short term rental is not legal here, (for good reason) why isn’t the city cracking down on them? Why aren’t neighbors calling 911?

If owners don’t want to live in a home or apartment, they should rent to families and local workers, and provide housing stock for the city. No wonder school enrollment is down...hundreds of Air B&B’s are not home to kids!

How does a neighborhood benefit from an Air B&B? If people are using the new ADUs for short term rental, all we get is more density in neighborhoods with no relief from the housing shortage!



5 people like this
Posted by Kevin
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 7, 2019 at 10:21 am

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Kevin
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 7, 2019 at 10:31 am

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by Be Street Smart
a resident of University South
on Oct 7, 2019 at 2:35 pm

[Post removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by wander3r
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 9, 2019 at 3:58 am

wander3r is a registered user.

>> AirBnB isn’t echnically illegal in Palo Alto. It is outright illegal

Housing is to be rented for a minimum of 30 days. The city needs to start enforcing the law. We need the housing. Not the hotels in the middle of residential neighborhoods.<<

Says the guy in Old Palo Alto as he sits in his comfortable home and apparently doesn’t need to worry about finances.


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