NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There are concerns about the safety of short-term rentals in the city, after some occupants were robbed and held at gunpoint while allegedly staying in one this weekend in Manhattan.
The chilling moment was caught on camera. Four suspects are seen entering apartment in the Inwood section of the borough. Those inside the apartment are held at gunpoint and at least one is robbed, CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon reported.
The incident happened at around 4 a.m. on Sunday in an apartment on Academy Street. According to sources, the renters, who were visiting from Massachusetts, told police they booked the apartment on a short-term rental site. They said they heard banging at the door, answered it and several men pushed their way inside.
“Shocked, because we thought it was very safe here,” Lorna Marshall said.
Marshall and her partner, Steve Flood, are visiting from Spain. They were uneasy to learn they’re staying at the same apartment where the robbery happened.
“It looked very nice, a very nice room,” Marshall said.
Marshall booked the unit on Booking.com. She said she chose the unit because everything in the center of Manhattan was too expensive during New Year’s week.
Police said a 25-year-old woman was allegedly locked in the bathroom when the robbery happened. Police said the suspects stole her wallet, which contained her ID, credit cards and cash.
No one was injured. Still, experts say while short-term rentals can be cheaper, they also come with more risks than hotels.
They say before you book, make sure to check reviews. There should be at least 10 recent and good ones.
And make sure to research the landlord and neighborhood as well.
“Keep everything on the platform. Make sure someone is above board, they’re transacting on the platform, they’re licensed,” Bankrate.com Industry analyst Ted Rossman said.
For many people, the risks that come with short-term rentals are not worth it.
“Don’t know the town you’re going to and end up in a sketchy neighborhood and wondering what you’re doing,” said Jim Harris, who was visiting from Texas.
But others said you have to be prepared if you take the risk.
“It’s bad wherever you go, really,” Flood said.
Anyone with information on this robbery is asked to call police.
Sources told CBS2 there’s no indication at this point that the occupants of the apartment were involved in criminal activity. Dhillon reached out to Booking.com but did not hear back.