Airbnb Host Claims Nightmare Guest Raided Locked Bedroom, Harassed Her: 'I Could've Been Murdered'
Two sisters who put their apartment for rent on Airbnb are alleging that one of their guests harassed them
Two sisters who put their apartment for rent on Airbnb are alleging that one of their guests got violent and harassed them — and that both the police’s and Airbnb’s responses to the incident were inadequate.
According to a series of tweets posted by one of the women, Alavia Khawaja of Richardson, Texas, and the Richardson Police Department, Khawaja rented out one room in her two-bedroom apartment on Oct. 11. She gave the the guest, Leonard Jackson, 31, the keys to the property, but locked her bedroom door. Then she and her sister left for a few hours and allegedly came home to him “cleaning up my apartment. He picked the lock on my bedroom, threw away every photo I had of male friends, and went thru my closet,” Khawaja wrote on Oct. 27.
“I confronted him and he denied everything. I kicked him out and he had the audacity to tell me to refund him. I found out an hour later that he stole cash (around $500) and immediately contacted Airbnb,” Khawaja continued, adding that she called the police to report the incident, but they “had trouble locating his ‘clean record’ and that meant they didn’t take me seriously.”
Sergeant Kevin Perlich, public information officer for Richardson PD, tells PEOPLE that Khawaja reported the amount stolen was actually $370, and there has since been an arrest warrant issued for the theft. It’s a Class B Misdemeanor as it’s less than $1,000.
Khawaja then tweeted that in the days following, Leonard continued to contact her both via text message and the Airbnb app, and because Airbnb and police allegedly “did nothing to help” her, she “decided to text him back” in an attempt to secure a confession from him.
Meanwhile, she said she’d learned from local authorities that Jackson had been arrested in Dallas since the incident in her home for allegedly “harming a child.” She said she was told that he had been sent to jail and subsequently released on bond.
According to Perlich, Jackson was arrested on Oct. 17 in Dallas for drug charges and “unauthorized carrying of a weapon.” Both of these were “low-level” offenses, and he “bonded out,” Perlich adds.
Khawaja also posted online screenshots of text messages that allegedly show Leonard stating he was coming to her home. After receiving them, Khawaja tweeted that she called the police and asked for someone to wait for him with her. But she said officers told her to call only once there was an actual crime committed.
“We have to respond when we know there’s bonafide trespass,” Perlich added. “All of her communications, what she’s saying and doing with him, that’s her choice. We’re not encouraging any of that.”
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Next, Khawaja said she “parked my car across the complex where I could keep an eye on my door. He was still texting me. ‘I better not have any guys there’ ‘bathroom better be clean’ ‘I need condoms.’ ”
Then, he was arrested and placed in jail for only 24 hours, she said, before getting out on bond. Khawaja tweeted that police had found Jackson at her home with three pistols on him, but police explicitly denied that he was in possession of any guns.
Perlich tells PEOPLE that Jackson contacted Khawaja on Oct. 20, returned to her apartment, and was promptly arrested for criminal trespassing. He was then transferred to the county jail and bonded out once again. Perlich said Jackson had no weapons, drug paraphernalia or anything else that could’ve led to additional charges on him at the time.
While in jail, Jackson “tried calling me four times,” Khawaja wrote on Twitter. “Then he messaged me on Airbnb and that’s how I found out that he was out. The police didn’t tell me, they were ‘too busy.’ “
She added: “I told Airbnb all of this. It took them about two weeks to do anything about it. They deleted his profile yesterday [Oct. 26]. This is trash service. I could’ve been murdered. This is a warning to everyone who uses Airbnb.”
In her final tweet, shared along with more screenshots of text messages, Khawaja concluded, “If my friend had not been with me during the first confrontation, who knows what would have happened.”
Richardson Police have not been able to locate Jackson since the warrant for his arrest was issued.
When asked about the incident, Ben Breit, Airbnb’s press secretary, said in a statement to PEOPLE, “This reported behavior is abhorrent and unacceptable, and has no place on Airbnb. We have removed this guest from our platform and are in contact with local law enforcement to offer our assistance. Our initial response to this incident was simply too slow, and we are profoundly sorry to the hosts who were impacted as a result. We are working to fully support them and will be reviewing our processes to understand how we could have improved our response.”
Khawaja did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment. Attempts to reach Jackson were unsuccessful.