Petty thievery, and I don't know who did it

We’ve been closed for 8 months while doing a renovation in our portion of the house (our rental is a separate entrance apartment on the lower level of our family home.) But once I opened the calendar back up, I was fully booked for May, almost instantly. Which is good, right?

But with so many guests and really quick turnovers, I know that there were details I didn’t register. I went in, did a good cleaning and sanitized, changed linens, restocked, all the basics. But not all the details, like changing the pillow protectors every time. Or going through the game cupboard.

So today I did a really deep clean because I actually had more than 2 hours between guests and I found we’ve had a pillow switch sometime in the last 3 weeks. Our nice fluffy down alternative has been switched for a dollar store flat foam pillow-- they had to take it out of a sham and a pillow protector to do the switch, so this wasn’t an accident.

Then I found that all the spices, all tea bags except mint and chamomile, every last snack bar, and all the paper goods have been cleared out of the kitchen. Several card games are gone.

And the thing making me most irate – a cheap/tacky souvenir fridge magnet my son got me from Turkey is gone. I only put it in the apartment kitchen because our new fridge isn’t magnetic, and now I’m mad at myself because I broke my own rule of “put nothing in there that it will upset you to lose”. Another souvenir someone helped themselves to was one of the devil ducks on a decorative shelf in the bathroom.

I’m not 100% sure who did it, but I kind of suspect the last guest, because I know for a fact that she used / took extra TP, paper towels, a stick of butter, a whole bottle of jam, and 8 ounces of olive oil in her 2 night stay. She was otherwise a pleasant guest, if a bit messy. I can’t prove she was the one who helped herself to the extras, so I can’t really call her out or mention it in a review.

We’ve had over 100 guests and this is the first time so many items have disappeared. Have you encountered this? Do you address it directly with a guest (if you know for sure which guest it was) or just consider it a cost of doing business?

Honestly, I’m just venting here, because other hosts probably get it more than my friend circles do. But I’m also peeved. We were really accommodating and helpful to every one of the guests we had in this time frame, so it leaves one with a negative feeling to think that while they were all pleasant and polite on the surface, they felt free to pilfer and plunder.


You have to let it go because you really don’t know which guest took your belongings.


Some guests like extra value for their stay.
I had a Dr stay for a week and he took every wooden coat hanger and every coffee pod, condiment, spice, oil and vinegar from the kitchen. Cleaned me out completely.
His stay was paid for by our hospital and he left his contract behind. I don’t understand how someone on $2000 a day, has the need to take my stuff.
I now only shop at the thrift shops, so it doesn’t upset me when I find items missing.


I’m so sorry - that would really bum me out. Not only the loss of stuff, but that feeling that you can’t trust folks to be considerate!


My sympathies. It’s so awful to have your trust and hospitality be violated like that. Never had anything like that with my own guests (private room home share) but I’ve definitely dealt with plenty of people like that in my life. Sweet as pie to your face, while stabbing you in the back.

For sure, don’t put anything you really value, even some silly little cheapo thing that has sentimental value, in an entire place rental.
My guest room and their bathroom is pretty, but quite sparse- no decorative stuff at all, really. And nothing I’d feel really sad about losing, just pissed about having a thief in my home.

One thing I don’t get, though. How did you not notice the pillow switch when you remade the bed? Just because you didn’t remove the pillow protector? Seems like it would have felt different.


re. pillow – I did notice something was odd. There were several bookings with people using the futon, and I’d find bedroom pillows in the living room area on the futon, or vice versa, and at least 2 times when someone went into a supply closet and took an extra pillow out (bed has 4 pillows, futon has 2 plus throw cushions). There is ample pillow supply. Anyhow, can’t pin point when it happened.

I think it all really boils down to: I like to think that I provide a really good value for the price, that I’m generous, and that what the guests get exceeds expectations. So when someone evidentially feels that they need to take extra things to get what they paid for, it makes me mad.

I’ll get over it. And I do know better than to put things I value in a rental space. I like having some quirky décor, hence the devil ducks, which were something me kids collected back in the day. I just looked it up, and the one that was stolen was a “rare” variety, valued at $28. Not really a big deal, but enough to make me irritated.

I can’t believe someone would take your wooden hangers, Debthecat. How rude! I’ve had someone take every toiletry, down to the last band-aid in the first aid kit, but that was the worst before this.

My prices went up quite a bit (I’m using Airbnb price suggestions) and the fact that I was so completely booked so fast suggests that I’m not overpriced, but I do wonder if the higher nightly rate set me up for a discontented guest.


That sucks! I try to be vigilant and scan to see if anything is gone, but I know what it’s like to be in a rush, too. Never will forget that my first guest stole every last hanger. Not fancy ones, but annoying!

Dare I hope you left the doc an appropriate review?

Mine would have read: CAN NOT RECOMMEND as a guest and would not host again. After the guest checked out I found he used or took with him every coffee pod, condiment, spice, oil and vinegar from the kitchen and every wooden hanger from the closet.

I would have been so angry. Especially so because: 1. I am very generous in the house supplies I leave for guests, 2. He obviously was not a low income person who was struggling to make ends meet, and 3. It would have cost a lot to replace all of that and my profit margins are not that large!

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direct bookingcfrom the local hospital and they were given feedback! Never seen him since… :grinning:

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I bring it up in the private feedback and say something along the lines of, that’s not cool clearing me out of x, Airbnbs are people’s homes we’re not faceless hotel chains. I hope that shames them in to not doing it to the next host.

Pilfering was a big problem when the great toilet paper shortage was on, I ended up restricting to 1 roll per night and said if they needed more they had to supply it.

Having gone through some of the issues you mentioned above:

I stopped leaving out more amenities than I wanted each guest stay to use.

I stopped buying expensive pillows.

I hang up inexpensive photos (mine) in $1 store frame on the walls.

And now I take a time-stamped video of the place once cleaned, lift upmattress , sheets and bedding to show clean mattress pad with no bed bugs. Turn on all appliances to show that they work, etc. I then reduce the video, date and store in the cloud should I need it. Yes, it take an extra 15 minutes but it’s worth my piece of mind.


I had a guest clear out every single large bottle of toiletries from the house …. And then tried to force a $600 credit lol!

Some people just feel entitled.

I wouldn’t stress it - it happens. I switched to bags of travel sized toiletries and my consumption went down significantly. People barely use them, people don’t take them - so it’s a win win. I look like I provide a lot and ultimately we use less.

I wouldn’t put out any more amenities than you are comfortable with them taking. And don’t go super high quality on things - go for durability and price.

If you spread the cost of your losses over all your bookings, it averages out to be less overwhelming. There are lots of suggestions here from people who have had that happen more. I have a home share so I think people are less likely to take stuff. Sometimes I think things have been taken, fuss and fume, and then find the things in odd places. If I absolutely knew who took something like your special magnet, I might ask if they might have put it away someplace since you can’t find it and share the significance. Some people would send it back claiming that they thought it was a souvenir for guests. It doesn’t look like you have that certainty and it was quite some time since your guests visited.


Can you explain this? It was a third party booking? Not trying to be a PITA, but that puts a host in a very vulnerable place when the guest is not part of the agreement, right?

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I have a real estate agent who receives bookings from our local hospital for visiting Drs/ specialists. There is a $250 deposit attached to the booking and I have only claimed on it once.
The Drs that are familiar with my listings often request repeat stays.
In regards to the theft of the food items, I just looked at it as some use nothing and some use everything- it was more the mindset of the Dr who thought this behaviour was ok.


If I have a health issue while in your airbnb and you are rationing TP and expecting me to go to the store and buy more you will get one star and a blistering written review from me. That kind of stinginess is a kind of theft from the guest.


Do you state this in your listing?

I think you should.

There is a post on reddit somewhere that I copied here (somewhere) where a guest/Host says that failing to make that part of the description in the listing (or House Rules) gave the guest cause for refund.

Regardless, out of fairness, say so. You probably do, but just in case.

Hey guys, to be fair, Nigel said he restricted the amount of toilet paper when it was in short supply early in the pandemic, and guests were pilfering it. He didn’t necessarily indicate that he still only provides one roll.


As the title says, petty thievery. A magnet isn’t important, and neither is a loo roll. I’m sure that you know that you shouldn’t have anything in your rental that you’d miss if it were stolen.

But you’re welcome to vent. :slight_smile:

I only did this after the previous 2 guests both times took the 6 rolls I had left out for a 1 night stay.

I put it in the house rules and told them before they came as there was none to buy in the village during the great toilet paper shortage of 2020. All guests were very understanding as most of the other hosts in the area were telling guests they had to bring their own as it wasn’t possible to purchase it locally.

I was also messaging them on booking to ask them not to clean us out of all the consumables when they checked out as guests doing this were making it very difficult for us due to supply issues. The pilfering stopped.

Once the shortage was over I brought in a new quantity that we use today. 1 night stay 3 rolls, 2 night stay 4 rolls etc, to a maximum of 10 for a 7 day stay.

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