AirBnb’s May Not Be As Safe As You Thought
Just because an Airbnb has good reviews, doesn’t mean you can’t be a victim, so be aware of the dangers lurking when on vacation. Imagine, you are on vacation and you make a horrifying discovery in your rented Airbnb, someone has been secretly recording your every move. What would you do if you found hidden cameras in your rental property? That is exactly what happened to an Indiana couple who was using the popular vacation rental website while taking a trip to Florida. Luckily, Derek Starnes worked in the tech field or he may have never noticed the tiny hidden cameras recording him and his wife.
Starnes told Tampa ABC Action News, that he noticed a smoke detector had a weird black hole, so he investigated it closer. When he looked inside the hole, he saw a tiny camera connected to an SD memory card.
The camera was pointed directly at the bed and this sent shivers down his spine. He searched around the rented home and found two other cameras, one pointed toward the living room and one in the bathroom.
Starnes and his wife rented the townhome in Longboat Key, near Sarasota, FL through the Airbnb website. He immediately called the police.
Wayne Natt was arrested and charged with video voyeurism and may be charged with more once all the evidence is collected. The 56-year-old tried to tell police that he only recorded consenting adults, but that doesn’t really hold any water. There was footage fo Starnes and his wife, and they definitely did NOT consent to be videotaped.
Lt. Bob Bourque of the Longboat Key Police Department told ABC Action News, “We seized a lot of computer storage devices, hard drives, computers, laptops, SD Cards and anything that would store data.”
He went on to say, “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.”
The police are asking any Airbnb guests who may have stayed at Mr. Natt’s home at 623 Cedars Court in Longboat Key, FL, to come forward. You may have been taped illegally as well.
Airbnb took swift action once they learned of this heinous act and immediately banned Mr. Natt from the website permanently.
Airbnb spokesman, Benjamin Breit made a statement, “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, privacy issues extremely seriously and have a zero-tolerance policy against this behavior.”
Starnes is feeling distressed because he knows the camera caught him walking across the bedroom nude. Can you imagine knowing that you were filmed in your most intimate and vulnerable state?
How To Prevent This Type of Thing From Happening to You
If you are worried about being secretly recorded when you are staying at a hotel or Airbnb, simply buy yourself a Camera Detector. A low-cost camera detector will run you around $30 and uses a laser to look for hidden cameras.
TELL THEM YOU PLAN TO SWEEP THE ROOM
This may make you sound paranoid, but who cares, it’s your personal safety we are talking about here. If someone was planning to film you, announcing it will most certainly scare them off.
USE A FLASHLIGHT
The flashlight can help you find the tiniest of hidden cameras.
Simply turn off all the lights, and slowly scan the room with the illuminated flashlight, looking for glints of light coming from a camera.
REVIEWS MEAN ALMOST NOTHING
Sure a review will tell you certain information, but in this situation, it tells you nothing. If someone found a camera before, the property would already be shut down. Don’t take ratings and reviews as the gospel.
This isn’t an isolated incident, as there have been several Airbnb guests who have been arrested for the exact same thing. A Montreal Airbnb host had a hidden camera in a bin next to the bed, catching all sorts of vacation revelry.
An Airbnb host in Japan is falling under scrutiny as there were hidden cameras found by a Korean couple who was staying at the apartment. This case also involved a smoke detector with a hidden camera installed.
According to Starnes, the Airbnb was well reviewed and there was no other evidence that something nefarious was going on.
Be careful out there, the world is full of many sick and twisted people.