TEEN yobs smashed up a luxury flat with sledgehammers after a 16-year-old girl rented it for a party and invited pals on Snapchat.
Up to 40 vandals caused around £40,000 of damage after rampaging through the swanky riverside apartment in east Belfast, where a two-bed pad costs about £175,000.
Thugs smashed through walls, broke windows, smeared blood on the walls and floor and trashed furniture as they ran amok on Saturday night.
Armed cops were scrambled to the flat as terrified neighbours feared the mob would target their homes.
The girl had told friends via Snapchat she was holding the shindig after her mum reserved the flat through Booking.com.
Apartment manager William told The Belfast Telegraph: “I have never seen anything like this, the damage is horrific.
‘IT’S A NIGHTMARE’
“Several windows are smashed, the kitchen’s wrecked, two bathrooms are wrecked, all the furniture is wrecked.
“There’s a hole in the wall from the kitchen into the hall… everything’s ruined. It’s a nightmare.”
He added: “There was blood smeared on the wall and floor so obviously whoever did this hurt themselves in the process.”
Dozens of youths aged 16-18 scaled railings to gate crash the party at the pad next to the River Lagan.
SMASHED THROUGH WALLS
Photos show the wrecked flat after thugs ran riot, smashing through walls and ripping apart the bathroom in the Short Strand area of the city.
The letters ‘SSH’ – believed to stand for ‘Short Strand Hoods’ – were written on a wall inside the ransacked flat.
It is often rented out to corporate clients or foreign tourists without any problem, said Wiliam.
He added Booking.com offered to waive its £9.80 commission after the carnage.
This is horrendous. The place just got completely wrecked. I now know that a mother booked it for her daughter, who turned out to be 16
Flat manager, William
William added: “It’s a total mess. It’s been described as a pre-arranged party that got out of hand.
“But it’s going to take a lot of time and money to get the apartment back to the way it was beforehand.
“We’ve been letting it out for two years without a hitch. We’ve hardly even had a broken plate or cup – and even then the client had sent a message apologising.
“I’ve contacted Booking.com to report what happened.
“They’ve offered to waive their £9.80 commission, which isn’t really going to cut it when I’m looking at tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage.
GATECRASHERS RAN AMOK
“This is horrendous. The place just got completely wrecked.I now know that a mother booked it for her daughter, who turned out to be 16.
“She organised a party on Snapchat, which everybody seemed to gatecrash, and when she asked them to leave they just wrecked the place.”
The flat was now “completely out of action” and tourist bookings have been cancelled for the next couple of weeks.
William added: “This has really put me off short term rentals. I think we’ll have to consider looking at long-term tenants only in the future.”
Yvonne Campbell, a businesswoman living in an apartment on the first floor of the complex, said she heard loud music blaring from the courtyard below.
I was extremely afraid for my safety. It was an immense relief when armed police finally turned up
Local resident, Yvonne Campbell
It was followed by a “deafening noise” and “what can only be described as an indoor riot” shortly before 10pm.
She said: “I was extremely afraid for my safety. It was an immense relief when armed police finally turned up.
“Nothing like this has ever happened here before. Nobody in the apartment block can believe it.”
A male apartment owner said: “Someone was running around with a sledgehammer.
“The police did send an armed response unit in the end but there was plenty of time for them to wreck the place beforehand.”
Kieran Smyth, boss of Charterhouse Property Management, which runs the apartments, said it was an alarming incident.
He added: “Short term letting through these agencies are causing widespread concern with people who own apartments in Northern Ireland.”
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said a 16-year-old girl was arrested and released on bail pending further enquiries.
A PSNI spokesman said “Police are investigating a report of criminal damage being caused to an apartment in the Short Strand area of Belfast on Saturday, 13th April.”
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A Booking.com spokesman said: “In the very rare instance that a customer engages in unlawful behaviour at a property, we encourage our partners to reach out to local authorities and make an official complaint.
“We support our accommodation partners fully and will cooperate with law enforcement in their official investigation as necessary.
“In this instance, we have also taken additional precautions to block this customer from making any further reservations via our site.”
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