Derek Starnes was looking forward to going on vacation with his wife to Longboat Key, Florida. They live in Indiana and were eager for some coastal living for a change. In preparation for their trip, they went online and found a desirable yet affordable place to stay via Airbnb.com. With so many options at better prices than most hotels, Derek and his wife found the perfect place – or so they thought. It was quaint but comfortable. After making the expensive trek from Indiana to Florida, Derek and his wife got the keys to the Airbnb rental. After dropping off their bags, they noticed something unexpected. There was a small black hole in the side of the smoke detector inside their master bedroom. It was not normal. And that’s when Derek realized the Airbnb host had installed a hidden camera – so he could watch the Indiana couple in bed at night.
Because Derek is a tech junkie, he knew the black hole on the smoke detector was a red flag. He suspected it could be a camera but wasn’t sure. That’s why he decided to inspect it to make sure the Florida property renter wasn’t spying on them. It was pointed directly at the bed after all.
Derek undid the smoke detector and found that it was indeed a hidden camera. Then he found another one in the living room.
Derek and his wife were outraged and felt violated. They didn’t know how many couples this Airbnb host had spied on. Perhaps the host had recorded video footage of unsuspecting lovebirds and posted the footage to the internet without their knowledge of consent. It was downright wrong.
Derek and his wife immediately went to the police.
The Florida philanderer had started renting out the spy palace about two years before. With forty reviews on Airbnb’s website, he had plenty of opportunities to catch unsuspecting travelers in their underwear – or in even more revealing situations.
Derek and his wife are still traumatized. And they hope that from their sharing of the story, other people will be careful when renting from Airbnb people who seem suspicious. Or in the very least, checking the property for hidden cameras before getting undressed.
Airbnb is not the only place where hidden cameras have been found. One woman found a camera spying on her from inside her hotel room.
Since this story went viral, Airbnb has banned the individual from renting their property on their online community.
The rental corporation told Fox 13:
“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 the egregious offense and we hope justice is served. We take privacy issues extremely seriously and have a zero-tolerance policy against this behavior.”
After hearing what happened to this Indiana couple in Florida, do you feel safe renting properties from individuals? Do you think the risk is higher than using a hotel?