Christian Aranda noticed something odd about the smoke detector on the wall of the property in Orange County, shortly after he and his girlfriend had checked in.
Video footage from his mobile phone, obtained by CBSLA, shows the detector is a fake, with a camera inside, complete with memory camera slots.
“I just opened it up. Found there was an SD slot in there. Found that there was a micro USB in there and turned it off. Put it away,” Aranda told the news station.
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) March 29, 2019
The following morning, the couple confronted the owner about the device, who admitted it was a camera, but said it was not recording.
“She just said that they were off, and I was like, ‘It doesn’t matter if they’re off! They shouldn’t be there in the first place pointing at the bed,'” Aranda told NBC.
The couple contacted the police.
Local police said that the device had been submitted as evidence, according to CBSLA, but without Wi-Fi capability and without a memory card to record, there was no evidence of a crime having been committed.
The listing no longer appears on the Airbnb website.
The owner of the Airbnb acknowledged the cameras were in place, but said they weren't recording. "It doesn't matter if…
The couple said the owner claimed she had only put up the device that morning, but they said that the photograph in the Airbnb listing appears to show the exact same device.
“It’s disgusting, that there’s people out there, recording you, getting intimate,” Aranda’s girlfriend, Alondra Salas, told KABC. “They have this labeled as a romantic getaway on Airbnb.”
Airbnb said in a statement via email, “Airbnb’s policies prohibit hidden cameras in listings, and we take reports of any violations very seriously. We promptly removed this host from our platform and completely refunded Ms. Salas based on the information reported. There have been more than 500 million guest arrivals in Airbnb listings to date and negative incidents are incredibly rare.”
The company’s rules allow cameras outdoors and in living and common areas, but not bathrooms or sleeping areas. Hosts are required to indicate where the cameras are and where they are aimed, which guests are automatically informed of and must consent to during the booking process.
There have been a number of reports in recent years of guests complaining of hidden cameras in rental properties and hotels.
Last year, a man discovered a hidden camera in an alarm clock in the living room of a rental property in Toronto where he was staying with his girlfriend.
Dougie Hamilton, from Scotland said, “I just happened to be facing this clock and was staring at it for about 10 minutes.”
“There was just something in my head that made me feel a bit uneasy,” he told the Daily Record.
”I thought, ‘Do I want to be the crazy guy that checks a digital clock for cameras now?’ In my head, I felt a bit weird even thinking it and I kept telling myself not to be daft. But there was just something.
He unplugged the charger and saw a lithium battery in the back. He slid off the front facing of the clock to reveal a camera.
“The hidden camera was facing into the living area and open-plan bedroom, so it could see everything. We didn’t know if the owner had been watching.
In “oh, that’s a thing now” news, a colleague of mine thought it odd that there was a single “motion detector” in his AirBNB in the bedroom and voila, it’s an IP camera connected to the web. (He left at 3am, reported, host is suspended, colleague got refund.) pic.twitter.com/6KgkDmEZXB
— Jason Scott (@textfiles) November 28, 2017
In 2017, pictures emerged of a motion detector in an Airbnb property that turned out to be an IP camera connected to the web.