Suspect in Airbnb theft arrested in Sonoma

A 27-year-old Richmond woman suspected of stealing $35,000 from a home she rented in San Francisco through the online lodging website Airbnb this spring was picked up by authorities in Sonoma County last month for narcotics-related violations, a police spokeswoman said today.

San Francisco police spokeswoman Grace Gatpandan said Jana Dominquez, the suspect wanted in connection with the theft at a residence in the 1400 block of 27th Avenue in the Richmond District, was picked up in Sonoma County for two narcotics-related violations on July 26.

San Francisco police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said Monday that Dominquez has a felony warrant for second-degree burglary and falsely impersonating another person out of San Francisco, but that she was not yet in custody in San Francisco.

The victim reported the alleged theft on June 8 and told investigators that she had recently rented out her residence through Airbnb starting on April 27.

The victim told police that the customer forced her way into a locked closet and office inside the apartment and made off with more than $35,000 in valuables.

The victim gave police a copy of video surveillance footage at her apartment, which clearly showed the suspect entering through the locked door and allowed police to identify the suspect, police said.

Airbnb spokesman Jakob Kerr said Monday that situations like this are incredibly rare.

Kerr said Airbnb has a zero-tolerance policy for theft and that “this guest has been permanently removed from Airbnb.” He said Airbnb has been in close contact with the host and is working to take care of her under their Host Guarantee program.

However, not everyone who hosts or rents properties on the Airbnb site are verified users and it’s ultimately up to the guest and the host to decide whether they choose to conduct business with unverified individuals on the site.

Kerr didn’t say whether the suspect in this case was a verified user or whether Airbnb would be compensating the host if her valuables were not returned.