Bureau, Martin—AFP/Getty Images
By Ethan Wolff-Mann
January 14, 2016

Airbnb has tons of listings across the country, and many of them are illegal, violating laws that prohibit sublets that are less than 30 days. In New York, where you can rent a room but not an entire, vacant residence, this makes something like half of all the listings there illegal. Sometimes the people flouting the law get subject to a worse crime—something of value gets stolen from their property by the illegal tenant. Should they call the cops?

It’s a question that’s prevented people from reporting the crime, but it shouldn’t, according to a new report by Buzzfeed News that asked various police departments whether they’d report the illegal housing situation.

Although it’s in the discretion of the officers to turn someone in for illegal subletting, it’s generally not something they care about and will ignore. “We don’t deal with crimes of illegal subletting,” NYPD Lieutenant John Grimpel told BuzzFeed News, who offered that care about “crimes,” not housing violations. This may narrow the definition of crime, but it’s something other departments have in common.

San Francisco’s police department gave a similar answer, which is also best read in a gruff, tired voice: “We don’t care [about the housing violation],” he said. “We only investigate the robbery part.”

Police, it seems, have better things to do than to bust you for illegally renting out your place, so feel free to report a theft.

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