Detours with locals.
Travel tips you can trust.

They booked an Airbnb for a Christmas getaway. Then their presents and belongings were stolen.


(Washington Post illustration; iStock)

When the Mpofu family booked an Airbnb for a Christmas vacation at Niagara Falls, they brought the standard travel items of gifts, medicine and clothing they would need for the trip. What they didn’t expect following a night out for dinner was that all of it would be gone when they returned.

In a Facebook post describing the incident, Sandra Mpofu detailed how their Christmas quickly turned into a nightmare.

“Our family vacation to the States took a quick turn when we returned to our Airbnb from dinner and found all of our belongings, Christmas presents and my diabetic father’s insulin GONE,” she wrote.

💔 Our nightmare before Christmas but a blessing to be safe. Our family vacation to the States took a quick turn when we...

Posted by Sandra Mpofu on Wednesday, December 25, 2019

A side door had been unlocked leading out to the unit’s basement, an entryway that Mpofu said the family was unaware of.

“When we arrived at the Airbnb after dinner, my aunt and I noticed that the TV in the living room was missing,” Mpofu told USA Today. “I looked in the corner where I had placed all of our wrapped presents, and they were all gone. That’s when my aunt ran upstairs and found all the luggage gone, as well.”

After calling the police, the host and Airbnb, the family was able to secure a refund and another place to stay. Members of the family have been in direct contact with Airbnb throughout the ordeal working to secure reimbursement for what was lost, according to a representative for the company.

“I hope this brings light to anyone using Airbnb to secure your belongings and stay cautious whilst travelling,” wrote Mpofu.

Airbnb has been under pressure to improve safety and security at rental units after a year that included a widespread investigation of fraud on the platform and shootings at a mansion party in California.

Regarding the Mpofu family, an Airbnb spokesperson said in a statement to The Washington Post: “Our sympathies are with this family. We have already provided them with a full refund and we are assisting with their stolen property.”

Mpofu called the incident “overwhelming and really disappointing” because much of her family had traveled far to be together for Christmas.

“My family from South Africa cut their vacation short because of the incident so we’ll all be going back” to their respective homes, she said in an email.

On Facebook, she offered an upbeat thought in what would otherwise be a worst-case scenario for any traveler.

“At the end of the day, we’re Mpofu’s and Mpofu’s find the bright side in any tough situation we’re placed in so although this may have dampened our mood we won’t let this take the joy away from celebrating Christmas together as a family,” she wrote.

Read more:

A couple was scammed by a $12,000 Airbnb listing. Here’s how to make sure that doesn’t happen to you.

If your vacation beach house looks too good to be true, it may be just that

By The Way’s most popular travel stories, tips and guides of 2019

We noticed you’re blocking ads!

Keep supporting great journalism by turning off your ad blocker. Or purchase a subscription for unlimited access to real news you can count on.
Unblock ads
Questions about why you are seeing this? Contact us