A couple who stayed in a Florida Airbnb found hidden cameras that they reported to the police, leading to their host being charged with voyeurism.
Derek Starnes and his wife, who was not named in media reports, were visiting Longboat Key just over a month ago when Starnes spotted a camera hidden in the bedroom’s smoke detector. He determined the camera was recording to an SD card and called the cops.
When the police arrived, they seized multiple pieces of computer equipment. A second camera was in the living room. Starnes reckons the bedroom camera recorded him naked.
The landlord, a man named Wayne Natt, was arrested on Oct. 3 and, according to an Ars Technica report, charged with one count of video voyeurism. He claimed he was a swinger and had recorded dozens of videos of sexual activity on the property, but with the subjects’ knowledge.
Airbnb spokesman Benjamin Breit told WFLA that the firm was “outraged” at the reports and had banned Natt from the platform permanently.
“Our team has reached out to local law enforcement to aid them with their investigation of this egregious offense and we hope justice is served,” Breit said. “We take privacy issues extremely seriously and have a zero-tolerance policy against this behavior.”
This is hardly the first time Airbnb guests have discovered they were being filmed by hidden cameras. There are a few examples in just the last few months. A Korean couple traveling in Japan also found a camera hidden in a fire detector in July, then a month later a Chinese couple experienced the same thing in Taiwan.
The practice is so widespread that, at the end of 2015, a software developer even released a tool to help Airbnb guests spot hidden cameras that have a Wi-Fi connection.