LONGBOAT KEY, FL (WFLA) — A vacation rental on Longboat Key had a hidden camera secretly recording guests in the bedroom, police say. They arrested the homeowner, but now they want to find people who stayed at that unit because they say there are more victims out there.
Last month, an Indiana man and his wife were staying at a Longboat Key condo they found on Airbnb at 623 Cedars Court.
During their stay, the man noticed something odd about the smoke detector above the bed in the master bedroom. The device had a small black dot. When he opened up the smoke detector, he found a camera and a microphone inside. There was another similar smoke detector in the living room.
“We did have the opportunity to analyze what was on the SD card and there are a couple of different people on them,” said Longboat Key Police Lt. Robert Bourque.
The homeowner, Wayne Natt, was arrested and charged with video voyeurism.
Natt lives in the unit when it’s not booked. He says the cameras are for his personal use and are not activated when guests are present. But police say the cameras can be operated remotely and they found numerous videos in the bedroom, including one of the Indiana couple.
“Our question is, if people are aware the cameras are there, why are they hidden in smoke alarms? And his answer was – for a better angle,” said Lt. Bourque.
Police believe there were many victims who were unknowingly recorded.
“Who knows what it’s being used for, so it’s very concerning,” said Lt. Bourque.
Police have confiscated the cameras and computer equipment. Some of the recovered videos date back to 2008. Officers could really use the public’s help in this case.
“I suspect there are other victims, it’s just a matter of identifying them or not,” said Lt. Bourque.
Natt has since been released on bond, but police say he could face more charges.
Airbnb spokesman Benjamin Breit said in 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. 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.”