A couple from Indiana thought they had planned their dream vacation in Florida, but it quickly turned into a nightmare.
Derek Starnes and his wife did what so many couples do nowadays: they rented a holiday home using the app Airbnb, which lets users rent their homes or apartments to guests for short stays. The unsuspecting couple found a pleasant home in Longboat Key, Florida through the app.
But shortly after they unpacked their things, Starnes made an eerie discovery. In the master bedroom, the smoke detector in the ceiling had an extra feature that the couple weren't aware of: a hidden camera.
Derek, who works in IT, realized something was suspicious about the "black hole" on the side of the alarm, and after taking the system off the ceiling he discovered a camera inside, pointed at their bed, recording images on an SD card.
The couple called police right away, and the authorities seized computers and data storage devices from the home owner. But when he was confronted, the man had a very unusual excuse for his invasion of privacy...
Wayne Natt, the home's owner, has been arrested and charged with video voyeurism for setting up the hidden camera.
Longboat Key Police Department Lieutenant Bob Bourque says that Natt has been active on the Airbnb app for two years, with more than 40 mostly positive reviews for his account. For the record, Natt maintains that no one was taped without their permission.
He says that the hidden camera was used to record "sex parties" that he hosted. When police asked why it was disguised as a smoke detector, Natt reportedly told them it was to get "a better angle." Police worry that other guests who stayed at Natt's home may have been recorded.
“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," Bourque said, "and then we have the other side of who he rented to through Airbnb.”
As for Starnes, he says that he was definitely caught on camera while he was naked, and reveals he and his wife are "distressed" by the situation. "I hope more victims will come forward,” he told ABC News. Police say recordings on Natt's hard drives date back as far as 2008.
For their part, Airbnb says in a statement that the case has "outraged" them, and Natt had been "permanently banned" from the app.
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[H/T: ABC Action News]