Travel nightmares: Couple finds hidden camera in Airbnb accommodation

2017-10-12 16:05 - Ishani Chetty
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Cape Town - Being watched is one of the most uncomfortable and unnerving feelings, especially when travelling - and it can send shivers down the spines of many. We associate being watched with something rather sinister and with the numerous Scream movies, it is safe to say it is down right creepy! 

READ: Airbnb: The good and the bad 

A couple from Indiana were in for a rather frightening experience when they recently took a trip to Longboat Key in Florida to find that someone was watching them.

Peeping Tom

A peeping Tom would have to be an understatement when you find a hidden camera watching you while on holiday, and wonder how long it has been there and even worse - who is watching you. 

According to abc Action News, Derek Starnes and his wife found the hidden camera placed in the smoke detector. Starnes noticed that there was a black hole within the smoke detector and after further inspection discovered the hidden camera. Starnes works in the tech industry and was immediately able to identify that it was a camera with an SD card that was recording them. 

After the discovery the Starnes contacted the police who conducted a further investigation of the property to find more hidden cameras. The couple is reportedly in shock and distress after the event, and they hope that those who had previously stayed at the residence as Airbnb guests will come forward, according to Fox 13 news

Source: Longboat Key Police Department 

The owner of the property, Wayne Natt was arrested on 3 October on the basis of video voyeurism and according to Fox 13 news Wayne states that he is a swinger and uses the camera to record his sexual activity with others, whom are aware of the cameras.

Police lieutenant Bob Bourque of the Longboat Key Police Department states that when Natt was pressed on why the cameras were hidden he answered that it provides a better angle for video footage but the police are not buying into Natt's defense.

Video voyeurism is considered a third degree felony in the United states meaning that Natt could face up to seven years in prison. Natt has been a member of Airbnb for two years and Police of Longboat Key Florida believe that many people who stayed at the residence were victims of this crime.  

READ: Airbnb in Cape Town CBD illegal without city consent 

Airbnb speaks out

A representative of Airbnb, Ben Breit, provided a statement saying "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 the egregious offense and we hope justice is served". 

Airbnb stated to Fox 13 that hosts must fully disclose if there are security cameras or any other form of surveillance equipment at or around the listed accommodation, and to get consent where required. It is also a strict rule that cameras are never allowed in bathrooms or bedrooms. 

Breit added, "We take privacy issues extremely seriously and have a zero-tolerance policy against this behavior".

We can only hope that this incident does not occur again and that hosts of Airbnb are aware of the rules that have been clearly outlined. 

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