Woman Shares Nightmare Experience on Airbnb With Stalker Guest

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Alavia Khawaja said everything seemed relatively normal as she handed an Airbnb guest the keys to the apartment she shares with her sister. She locked her room up, invited a male friend over as a precaution and left after she gave Leonard Jackson the keys to her apartment on Oct. 11.

When she returned four hours later, she said Jackson was moving the stuff in her apartment around and had broken into her room. He stole $500, threw away all her photos of male friends and ransacked her closet.

“I saw my door was cracked open, the lights were on, my closet had been gone through,” she said. “The cosmetic case where my sister keeps her cash was empty.”

Khawaja said she is glad she posted her story on Twitter, however, because two other women came forward and said they also had negative experiences with Jackson.

One woman told Khawaja that Jackson stayed with her and then stalked her. The woman reported Jackson to Airbnb but his profile was not removed, she said.

Another woman received a message from Jackson but saw a negative review the first woman posted about him and decided not to let him stay, Khawaja said.

After receiving thousands of comments on her Twitter thread, Khawaja also realized how many times a story like hers ends much worse.

“I’m seeing all these other women comment and say, ‘I had a similar experience, but someone died,’” she said. “I realized how lucky I am to be alive. I was really scared while it was happening, but I am so used to being harassed, like most women are, that it didn’t hit me that I could die this time.”

She was frustrated to receive other comments that ultimately blamed her for the whole situation, telling her she should have done things differently.

“I don’t like when people focus on what a victim should have done better,” she said. “There is always something a victim could have done better. If you get hit by a car, you could have

been more aware of your surroundings. But no one ever focuses on how the abuser should not have abused.”

In his statement, Breit with Airbnb said Khawaja’s situation was rare.

“This reported behavior is abhorrent and unacceptable, and has no place on Airbnb. We have removed this guest from our platform and are in contact with local law enforcement to offer our assistance,” he said. “There have been over 400 million guest arrivals to date and negative incidents are extremely rare.”

Khawaja also wanted to make it clear she was not trying to blame Richardson police.

“They were all very kind to me, they were just not very efficient,” she said.

Perlich said Jackson was not in custody as of Thursday but a warrant was out for his arrest on theft charges.

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