LONGBOAT KEY, Fla. - A Florida man was arrested last month after an Indiana couple who rented a room in the man’s home via vacation rental service Airbnb said they found a hidden camera watching them.
Derek Starnes and his wife were renting out an Airbnb unit in Longboat Key, Florida, when they realized what appeared to be a smoke detector was in fact a camera -- and it was pointed directly at the bed, WFTS reported.
Starnes, who works with technology professionally, said he noticed a black hole on the side of the smoke detector. When he took it down, he saw the hole was actually a recording camera.
Starnes, who immediately called police, told WFTS he and his wife were “distressed.”
Wayne Natt was arrested and charged with one count of video voyeurism.
“We seized a lot of computer storage data devices, hard drives, computers, laptops SD cards anything that would store data,” Lt. Bob Bourque said. “We don’t know if there are local victims -- someone who may have been dating him or a companion that doesn’t realize they are being videotaped -- and then we have the other side of who he rented to through Airbnb.”
Starnes said the Airbnb unit had more than 40 reviews. WFTS reported the Airbnb was listed for two years.
According to the New York Daily News, Natt, 56, allegedly told authorities the cameras were installed to record sex parties he hosted at the home. He reportedly told police the cameras weren’t recording while the unit was rented out via Airbnb.
“He says that everyone videoed had knowledge he was videoing them,” Bourque said. “What we said to that was, ‘If people are consenting to recording sexual activity why is it hidden in a smoke alarm?’ He said it was for recording sexual activity ... (and the ceiling placement) gave him a better angle.”
Airbnb released a statement, saying:
“We are outraged at the reports of what happened; as soon as we were made aware, we permanently banned this individual from our community and fully supported the affected guests. 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. We take privacy issues extremely seriously and have a zero-tolerance policy against this behavior.”
Starnes said he hopes more victims will come forward. Police are asking other potential victims to contact them.
Read more at WFTS.
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