Two women have been imprisoned for stealing $40,000 worth of property from holiday homes they booked online with stolen credit cards.
36-year-old Terangi Jury and 31-year-old Samadhi Lucas pleaded guilty to burglary and receiving stolen property after stripping property from seven Christchurch short lets last year.
Jury also admitted assault, having bitten a police officer who arrested her at the scene of her final burglary.
In sentencing last Wednesday, Judge Jane Farish said insurance companies would “have to suffer the loss” caused by their actions.
Lucas was sentenced to two years and six months in prison and ordered to pay $1463 in reparation to the property owners to cover their insurance excesses.
Jury was given a sentence of two years and three months and ordered to pay $3175 in reparation.
All the properties involved were short-term rentals supervised by property management companies and booked through Booking.com or Bookabach.
The principal of one short-let property management company, who asked not to be named for fear of becoming a target, told AccomNews identity theft is a “really huge” issue in short stay.
“I am getting scammed four to six times per week so I hate to think what is happening with the industry generally speaking,” she said.
“Scammers go to shopping centres or airports and steal handbags, wallets etc. and then go to the nearest internet café (so the IP address cannot be tracked) and make a booking and the credit card goes through because the person who has lost it hasn’t reported it yet.
“And then at the end of the month, the bank claws back the funds and meanwhile the house has been let and they hold a party and trash the joint!”
Another disagreed the stolen credit card scenario was rife, describing it as a rarity in her experience but one she had come across “one or two times”.
Often, properties such as those targeted by Jury and Lucas have a combination lock box installed which contains a key to the property. Once a booking has been paid, the tenant is given the combination to access the key inside the box.
Jury admitted five charges of receiving stolen property and two of burglary. She also admitted stealing a woman’s bag from a shopping mall while on electronically-monitored bail, according to Stuff
Defence counsel asked the judge for a reduced sentence which might allow home detention, saying Jury’s young children would otherwise be forced to move to Auckland to live with family members if she was jailed.
However, Judge Farish said Jury could not expect to avoid the consequences of her offending because she was a mother.
Lucas, who has been on remand since her arrest, admitted five charges of receiving and two charges of burglary, two charges of shoplifting, careless driving and driving under the influence of methamphetamine and another drug.
Her defence counsel said Lucas was now more “grounded” and she hoped her sentence length would be close to the time already served in custody.