SCRIPPS RANCH — Yesterday a 28-year-old furniture salesman named Mark Schuler was arrested for allegedly running an illegal CouchSurfing Ring from within the Scripps Ranch Jerome’s Furniture Store.
CouchSurfing is a popular hospitality exchange network — organized by the website CouchSurfing.org — where members volunteer to provide free sleeping accommodations to guests traveling from out of town. Members then receive feedback from guests, which in turn helps them find a place to stay when they choose to travel.
Schuler, who has an active profile on CouchSurfing.org, reportedly invited hundreds of ‘Couch Surfers’ into the Jerome’s Furniture Store after business hours and let them spend the night on the floor-model couches.
San Diego Police became suspicious after receiving an anonymous tip from a nearby Chuck E. Cheese employee named Clarance McDowell. McDowell said that he noticed “a crowd of foreigners” enter Jerome’s Furniture every night at 10:00pm.
After receiving the tip, SDPD examined Schuler’s CouchSurfing.org profile and discovered that Schuler claimed to have 372 couches available to accommodate other members.
“His profile was a major red flag. No one could possibly own that many couches,” said SDPD Sergeant Murray Thomas. “We immediately made plans to raid Jerome’s at midnight so we could catch Schuler and his guests in the act of sleeping,” he added.
The SDPD SWAT team stormed the Scripps Ranch Jerome’s Furniture Store and arrested Schuler and all 138 of his guests, most of which will be deported to Sweden.
When police asked Schuler why he put himself at risk by illegally accommodating hundreds of ‘Couch Surfers’, he explained that he was trying to increase his CouchSurfing.org feedback score as quickly as possible, so he could build up enough positive feedback to be able to backpack through Europe without paying for a hotel.
Jerome Cannington, owner of Jerome’s Furniture, could not be reached for comment because he is currently vacationing at his multi-million dollar estate in France with his Brazilian supermodel girlfriend, Blanca Ferreira.