Teens armed with knives robbed people in a suburban Melbourne street on Friday night after police broke up a gathering at a property rented by a 15-year-old boy through Airbnb.
The owner of the Point Cook property called 000 when the party, which had been advertised on Facebook, sparked noise complaints and spilled out onto St Clair Avenue at around 8.45pm on Friday.
The property was not damaged but it is believed some of the party-goers, aged between 14 and 16, remained in the area after police attended.
Police say two teens were approached at 10.45pm by five youths on the same street. Demands were allegedly made for their belongings before a knife was produced. The two teenage boys were assaulted and had a mobile phone, backpack and pair of shoes stolen, according to police. They were treated at the scene for minor injuries and did not go to hospital.
A short time later two other teen boys were robbed and assaulted by a group of about eight males on The Crescent.
According to The Age newspaper, Victoria Police acting assistant commissioner Tim Hansen said aggravated burglaries linked to short-stay apartments are an emerging crime trend.
Last Sunday, residents in a Melbourne city apartment complex were woken by people knocking on their doors and checking door handles. Two apartments on two different floors were broken into while the occupants were sleeping inside. Three men staying in a short-term rental in the Spencer Street complex are suspected of being behind the robberies, with CCTV footage allegedly showing them leaving with their hands full of other people’s belongings.
Speaking about Friday night’s incident, a police spokesperson said: “A 17-year-old was taken to hospital with minor injuries. The offenders in both robberies are perceived to be of African appearance. Police are investigating whether the incidents are linked.”
The boy who rented the property through Airbnb has now been banned from the site, a spokesperson said, telling Fairfax Media such incidents are rare and Airbnb users are meant to be aged 18 years or older.
“Building a safe, trusted community is our number one priority. We have permanently banned this individual from our platform,” the spokesperson said.
“There have been over 400 million guest arrivals in Airbnb listings to date and negative incidents like this are incredibly rare.”
According to the Point Cook property owner, the rental was booked for four guests.