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What was supposed to be a fun getaway turned into a traumatic experience for a couple from Indiana who allegedly found a hidden camera in the smoke detector in their Airbnb rental.
Derek Starnes and his wife, who booked their accommodations via the popular online lodging website, were vacationing in Longboat Key, FL. The couple was sitting in the master bedroom of their condo when Starnes, who works in the Information Technologies industry, noticed something odd about the smoke detector above their bed: a tiny dark circle on the face of it. When he took the detector down, he realized it was a camera. He told ABC Action News that his tech savvy helped him spot the lens.
The camera recording was being stored on an SD card, a memory chip used in digital devices, which Starnes also discovered. He immediately called the police, and the host, 57-year-old Wayne Natt, was arrested on charges of video voyeurism.
“My wife and I are distressed by this situation,” Starnes told the local news station, “and I hope more victims will come forward.” Starnes also claims that he was caught walking naked in Natt’s master bedroom.
“We are outraged at the reports of what happened, ” Airbnb spokesperson Benjamin Breit said in a statement to People Chica. “As soon as we were made aware, we permanently banned this individual from our community and fully supported the affected guests.” Breit also added that the company has been fully cooperative with the police: “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.”
According to Lt. Bob Bourque of the Longboat Key Police Department, all of Natt’s technological devices that store information, including hard drives and laptops, has been confiscated. Police are investigating whether others may have been filmed without their knowledge.
Lt. Bourque said Natt gave a statement with his attorney present, claiming that he used the camera to record sex parties he hosted and that all his guests consented to being filmed.
Natt, whose condo has been on Airbnb for two years, is now out on bond. His court date is scheduled for next month.