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After 19 years and 10 months of being on warm showers - this made me pause my account

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WS Member steevo's picture
After 19 years and 10 months of being on warm showers - this made me pause my account

I have not hosted anybody on Warm Showers for 2 years. I get requests and just cant bring myself to open my doors to anybody anymore.  I signed up for warm showers in 1999. It was a lot different. I have never used it to find myself a place to sleep because back then when I was touring a lot, there were no smart phones, and it was a logistic nightmare. 

However, we have hosted dozens of people at our house. We had a standard formula: if they were riding across the country, ask them if they want to go to get dinner somewhere and buy them dinner. If they wanted a day off, give them the keys the house and let them do whatever. Even without warm showers, the generosity of strangers shown to us over the years was amazing and we felt as if we needed to give back. 

Then in 2017 we had a single male show up. He was "riding cross country." He had planned his route months in advance.  From the minute he arrived, there was something off about him, to the point where my wife was like "I am not dealing with this guy..." and didn't go out to eat with us.  He was ungracious at first, insulting how hot our house was, among other things. After spending the evening with him, I had "bad vibes". 

That night, my wife and I laid in bed googling him. I found a bikeforums thread that he started that was all about his trip. There were a few people in the thread that seemed to be making a hobby of disproving things that he said. It was interesting to say the least.  I found his instagram where he mentioned camping with a woman that he had ridden with for several days. I found her instagram and she mentioned being robbed by a guy that she had ridden with for several days.  I locked our bedroom door and braced it. I messaged her and asked her if it was him. She said yes. 

The guy took a day off while staying out our house. I didn't give him a key.  I was skeptical of everything that he said.  Reflecting on it, he was either a chronic liar or a sociopath. He stayed another night. We were forceful with rules and boundaries to keep him out of our house as long as possible.  He stole several items from us. 

I turned him into warm showers and they canceled / suspended his account.  He messaged me and called me names.  The guy on bikeforums sent me an article from a newspaper in new England about him that was a feel good story about a guy riding his bike for charity. He was wearing my stolen item in the photo. 

Keep your guard up. Just because somebody is on a touring bike does not mean that they are your friend. 

 

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WS Member WS Member's picture
Creepy Rider

I started bike touring when I retired and have since stayed with hundreds of Warmshowers and Couchsurfing hosts, which is actually the most enjoyable part of my travels.  Each summer is spent roaming my beautiful country and experiencing its people.  Your incident is so rare.  Every host I have stayed with has never had a problem, even after years of being available.  Maybe the time has come for us to require more background and feedback online but I don't want you to give up.  One bad apple does not a bad batch make. 

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Stephen, was this the short,

Stephen, was this the short, bearded guy on a fatbike? All the drama of lies and theft that I have ever seen on WS, has come down to that one guy. If anything, the fact that the community has had serious problems with just one single guy testifies to the safety of the network. In the past, WS members circulated photos of the man, so that all hosts needed to do was keep up with the WS forum, and then they would instantly recognize this troublesome guest when they got a request from him.

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The one troublemaker

You'd think it would be easy to find photographs of him on here, essential since his name changed multiple times. It certainly is in the interest of hosts for there to be an easily accessible "rogues gallery," even if it is currently (and hopefully permanently) only populated by one photograph.

That one can't find such a service on here says less about the serial petty criminal than it does about the leadership, which seems to have essentially vanished as far as accountability to and communication with the membership is concerned.

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Bad Guy

Don, I'm not a lawyer but I would think WS has to be careful in the present climate of no-integrity attorneys and ding-dong judges.  Even a serial killer can sue you for ruining their good name and it might take thousands of dollars in legal fees to settle the matter.

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I might have hosted him, too

Steven/Matthew???   If this is the same guy, I hosted him, my friends hosted him, and one of my last Warmshowers hosts in Virginia has hosted him.   He might not have been the ideal guest for any of us, but he certainly wasn’t a problem for us. 

Always use your judgment.   And always leave feedback and read the feedback that has been left. 

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Really, I'm just boggled by this revisionist history

The serial thefts, the lies, smirking and threatening emails, reported by quite a few people on here? You think that people have forgotten that? And how was feedback to alert people, as the profile was created anew and anew and anew.

Ken, I don't know what relation you have with the board currently, but you served in several capacities during the period when it disappeared from the daily life of the forums, so I'm assuming to some degree this reflects the current board attitude. And that attitude, so cavalierly dismissive of the real concerns raised by a member to start this thread, I find quite disturbing. It indicates to me an immense gulf between those who are now running warmshowers and those who use it. Do you not see this as a problem?

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I am not sure how this is

I am not sure how this is dismissive when I have stated I have had this man as a guest in my house.  In my early years of hosting, I accepted anybody who asked.  And I have read several forum threads where members accept guests sight unseen and never bother to read their profiles.  I have learened to be a little less trusting and more discriminant.  I decline if I am busy or feel uncomfortable with the request.

That said, I know strangers took a risk in letting me in back in the day when I knocked on farm house doors.  There is certainly a risk involved in taking a stranger into your house, as well as staying in someone's house.  I think we all join Warmshowers understanding this risk.

Over the years there have been problems with some members and these situations/members have been dealt with as best as can be.  This is why we have a Trust and Safety Committee in place.

I said goodby to my last 2 guests this morning.  I still believe in this organization and this community.

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Dismissive

Well, your reply sounded like downplaying the problem. Here one can see whom this is probably about: https://www.warmshowers.org/node/183188 

What has happened with the Annual Reports where also Safety issues used to be made transparent? I cannot find anything recent.

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Adding a warning about "Steve Ray" to one's profile?

 

Well, here's an idea: All American hosts (at least, assuming he won't change the continent) could add to the end of their profile a link to that discussion, like this:

PS. Beware of this guy: https://www.warmshowers.org/node/183188 

Maybe also guests who cycle in USA, that way the information would reach many hosts there.