Airbnb host tries to shut down guests’ party — and gets robbed, California cops say

An Airbnb host stumbled upon a party at his rental property last weekend in Palo Alto, California — and the situation only got worse from there, ending with a 911 call and what police described as a strong arm robbery.

The property owner, who is in his 60s, had gone to check on the rental property on Tennyson Avenue in the Bay Area city around 12:30 a.m. Sunday because he was alerted that a smoke alarm had gone off, Palo Alto police said in a news release Wednesday.

Although there were only supposed to be two people at the home for a one-night rental, the owner discovered a party of roughly 40 people inside, police said.

The owner walked around the rental and asked people to go, but some wouldn’t leave — including two partiers who went up to the owner in a bedroom, pushed him to the ground, and then “grabbed his wallet and mobile phone and ran away,” according to police.

Another person helped the Airbnb host get his belongings back. But then, just as the owner was dialing 911, a third man came up to him and pushed him, stealing his cellphone and “an undisclosed amount of money located in his front pants pocket,” police said.

Police said that “around 1:45 a.m., our 24-hour dispatch center received a 9-1-1 hang up call and sent officers to investigate.”

The thief ran away, police said. The victim wasn’t injured.

Police are now hoping to identify the three suspects who robbed the property owner and shoved him to the ground.

Anyone with tips in the case can call the Palo Alto police 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413, police said in the news release. Information can also be submitted anonymously by email to, or by text or voicemail to 650-383-8984.

An Airbnb spokesman said in a statement emailed to McClatchy news group on Wednesday that “the reported behavior is appalling.”

“We have removed the booking guest from the Airbnb community,” spokesperson Charlie Urbancic wrote. “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.”

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.