Family detained when Airbnb rental revealed as marijuana grow house

By Ben Hooper  |  Jan. 8, 2016 at 4:56 PM
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BURLEIGH HEADS, Australia, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- An Australian family taking a Gold Coast vacation ended up detained by police for five hours when their Airbnb rental turned out to be a marijuana grow house.

Jacquie Young, 46, and Dieter Winkler, 48, said they used Airbnb to rent a home in Burleigh Heads for their vacation with their five children, ages 9-18, and they heeded the homeowner's request for them to stay out of a locked room that had been blocked by a bookcase.

The couple said they heard the sounds of rushing water coming from the locked room, but decided to ignore it.

The family has been in the house for less than 24 hours when Gold Coast Criminal Investigation Branch officers raided the home Dec. 28. The family members were detained for five hours while officers seized marijuana plants and hydroponic growing equipment from the locked room.

"They didn't know who we were so it was quite mortifying," Winkler told the Gold Coast Bulletin. "They didn't know we were innocent, so it wasn't a friendly reception. We'd just been getting ready for a barbecue."

"My 72-year-old mother was at the home at the time and my little 5-year-old niece rocked up mid-raid," he said.

The family was eventually cleared of wrongdoing and allowed to leave.

"I think we'll be able to laugh about it soon, but at the moment I'm still a bit annoyed because we were so looking forward to the holiday," Young told the BBC.

"A week late I'm still absolutely gobsmacked that people can be so aware of what they're doing and so selfish... but putting people's live at risk is a really despicable act," she said. "My middle son was really shell shocked, he just wanted to come home. It was quite frightening."

Airbnb said the family was refunded $1,261 and given additional funds to cover the cost of alternative accommodations.

"While incidents like this are incredibly rare, we take them very seriously... There is absolutely no place for this sort of activity on Airbnb and this property has been banned," the company said in a statement.

The homeowner, a 40-year-old woman, has been charged with unlawfully producing a dangerous drug and is due in court in February.

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