Have you ever stayed at an Airbnb while traveling? This can be a great alternative to the basic cookie-cutter type hotel chain.
However, recent reports of how registered sex offenders use Airbnb might scare you from using the online marketplace. You won't believe the frightening details!
What comes to mind when you hear "registered sex offender?" Most people probably think of recently released prisoners who were convicted of the most unthinkable crimes and will be listed on a public database for life. That's not always the case.
Not all sex offenders are listed
Every state in the country has a public database online of registered sex offenders. It's also known as the Megan's Law database.
Most people are not aware that not all sex offenders can be found on those lists. Even if you do a search by name or location, certain sex offenders don't show up.
That's exactly what happened recently in Carmel Valley, CA. A locally known registered sex offender ended up living with a woman who also rented her home to Airbnb customers.
The sex offender, Carl Bergstrom, a former doctor in the area, was convicted in a highly publicized rape trial a few years earlier. He ended up having his conviction overturned by the appellate court.
Instead of going through another trial, Bergstrom accepted a plea deal from the district attorney. He agreed to be registered as a sex offender for the rest of his life. However, part of his plea deal allows him to stay off the public database. So even if you were to search for Bergstrom on the database, you won't find him.
Then you have the Airbnb situation. Bergstrom's roommate is actually listed as the host and didn't mention him to the online marketplace company. So Airbnb wasn't able to do a background check on him like they do on all listed hosts.
Local residents were able to identify Bergstrom and reported him to Airbnb. Once the company found out, they removed his roommate from being a host.
It's scary to think that we could be exposed to sex offenders like this just because they're not listed as the Airbnb host. If you ever find yourself in this situation, report it to the company immediately.
Want to find the perfect place to stay while traveling? Here's how to find the best hotel for your budget
There are many different ways to shop for a hotel, but you always need to set some parameters ahead of time. Is money no object? Are you on a shoestring budget? Do you want luxury or are you OK with more basic accommodations?