Florida: Couple Finds Hidden Camera In Airbnb Room

A couple who rented a room through Airbnb discovered something that’s not supposed to be in any room offered by the service. They found a hidden camera inside the smoke detector of the room. The hidden camera was reportedly pointing right at the bed.

Derek Starnes, who rented a room in Longboat Key, Florida through the popular Airbnb service, told WFTS-TV that he and his wife are distressed by the situation and that he hopes more victims will come forward.

The small camera is barely noticeable and can record videos. Starnes noticed the camera because he works in the IT sector. The couple noticed the camera a day after checking in.

Airbnb has already responded to the nightmare story and the user who was renting the room has been arrested. Wayne Natt, 56, was arrested shortly after the couple found the camera but is currently out on bond. He is scheduled to appear in court next month.

The company spoke to ABC News and said that Natt had an account on the service for two years. He had at least 40 reviews but the company decided to ban him after learning about the couple’s discovery. An Airbnb spokesperson said they were outraged at the reports of what happened and that as soon as they were made aware, they permanently banned the individual from their community and supported the affected guests.

Starnes spotted the camera because of his background in IT but many users before them probably didn’t notice that there was a camera in the smoke detector. Authorities who searched the property say they found two cameras hidden in smoke detectors.

From the pictures, the camera looks difficult to spot, especially if it is sitting on a smoke detector in a ceiling. But authorities say there are a few ways to spot one. One of the ways is to use the flashlight on a smartphone to see if there is a reflection from a lens nearby.

An official of the Longboat Key Police Department spoke to WFTS-TV and said that officers had seized a lot storage devices, including SD cards, hard drives and computers.

Airbnb, a popular rental service, has already seen a similar incident in the past. Back in 2015, the company was facing a lawsuit over a hidden camera in a rented apartment. The lawsuit was filed by a German woman who rented an apartment in California and found a camera hidden behind candles.