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Homeowner secretly recorded Airbnb guests for years: police

By New York Post

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(NEW YORK POST) – A homeowner in Florida allegedly used hidden cameras to secretly record guests at his Airbnb rental unit — and investigators believe he’s been spying on his guests for nearly a decade.

Derek Starnes and his wife, who were visiting from Indiana, told WFTS that they were staying at the Cedars Court condo in Longboat Key last month when they found a camera hidden inside a smoke detector in the unit’s master bedroom and called police.

Responding officers later seized “a lot of computer storage data drives, hard drives, computers, laptops [and] SD cards,” Longboat Key police 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,” Bourque said.

Wayne Natt, 56, was later arrested and charged with one count of video voyeurism. His account with Airbnb had been active for two years, according to Bourque, and Starnes said he noticed that Natt had more than 40 reviews on the hospitality service’s website.

Starnes said he’s sure that the camera inside the doctored smoke detector caught him walking around Natt’s condo while naked.

“My wife and I are distressed by this situation,” Starnes said. “I hope more victims will come forward.”

Natt told investigators after his arrest that everyone captured on the camera had given him consent to be filmed during consensual sex parties at the residence.

“He says that everyone videoed had knowledge he was videoing them,” Bourque told WFTS. “What we said to that was … if people are consenting to recording sexual activity, why is it hidden in a smoke alarm?”

Natt said that location of the camera “gave him a better angle,” according to Bourque.

There was also a similar smoke detector in the unit’s living room, WFLA reports.

Investigators believe there could be many more victims who were unknowingly being filmed. Some of the recovered videos from Natt’s unit date back to 2008.

“I suspect there are other victims, it’s just a matter of identifying them or not,” Bourque told WFLA.

Natt has since been released on bail, but may face additional charges.

Airbnb officials said they’re “outraged” by the accusations and permanently banned Natt from its service as soon as it learned of his arrest.

“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,” Airbnb spokesman Benjamin Breit said in a statement. “We take privacy issues extremely seriously and have a zero-tolerance policy against this behavior.”

 

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