File Photo (Jay Wallace Images)

Two men have been arrested after using the COVID-19 pandemic to stay at an AirBnB free of charge.

On Saturday March 28th, police were called to a unit at a residential building in the 600 block of Herald Street by a property owner who became suspicious of their AirBnB guest’s claims of having contracted COVID-19.

Officers found that the guest refused to leave the unit, claiming that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was displaying severe symptoms of the virus.

The owner allowed the man to stay in the unit free of charge, but became suspicious of his claims when he was observed leaving the building.

When VicPD officers arrived and spoke to the man, they found that he had no COVID-19 diagnosis and was not displaying any symptoms of the virus.

They escorted him to the unit to retrieve his belongings, and found another man in the property who was wanted on arrest warrants. Officers also found several thousand dollars worth of stolen items.

Both men denied having any knowledge of the stolen property, and they were both arrested. The man wanted on warrants was transported to Saanich Police, and the stolen items were seized by VicPD.

“The investigation into this file remains under way and officers are in the process of attempting to reunite the stolen property with the rightful owners,” reads a statement from VicPD.

In response to scammers attempting to use the COVID-19 pandemic to take advantage of AirBnB owners, VicPD has issued a list of recommendations on how to keep these properties crime free. They can be found here.

Anyone with information about this incident or other COVID-19 AirBnB scams is asked to contact the VicPD non-emergency line at (250) 995-7654.

To report what you know anonymously, call Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-2220-8477.