Jay A. is a despicable person…
For years, he was a vacation rental host in Texas but was recently charged with 15 counts of invasive visual recording.
Police discovered he had more than 2,000 photos of his vacation rental guests.
He was arrested after a guest at a rental called police after they found a camera in one of the bedrooms.
The camera was disguised as a power adapter.
The thing is that Jay had attained status as a VRBO Premier Host and an Airbnb Superhost.
According to local media, the guest who found the camera became suspicious after Jay made unusual comments about watching the sunset in the nude.
In addition to criminal charges, the host faces a lawsuit from 17 victims who say he recorded them.
It’s believed that the hidden camera was set up for nine months before it was discovered.
According to Airbnb, hosts must disclose cameras in public areas, and those cameras are not allowed in bedrooms, bathrooms, or any space deemed private.
An Airbnb spokesperson said…
“On our platform, we strictly ban hidden cameras. The reported criminal behavior of this bed-and-breakfast owner is outrageous, and he and his property are banned from Airbnb. Our law enforcement operations team has been working to support the Kendall County Sheriff’s Office in their investigation.”
A spokesperson for VRBO also said they do not allow surveillance devices.
Both VRBO and Airbnb removed the listings for Jay’s properties as soon as they became aware of the crimes.
Obviously, when using vacation rental websites, you are putting a lot of trust in the property owner.
Most of all, you are trusting a stranger to respect your privacy.
Plus, with the advancements in technology cameras can be hidden anywhere – in vents, lamps, power outlets, and even TV remote controls.
If you are planning a vacation anytime soon you need to take more precautions than ever before.
Considering this, here are a few ways to check your vacation rental or hotel room for hidden cameras.
Turn off the lights:
Even the smallest cameras have some type of lens, some part of the camera that is watching you.
When you get to the place you are staying, turn off the light.
Then, take a flashlight and scan around the room. Check for objects where you think a camera could be hidden.
Inspect places like vents, power outlets, and other areas that go into the wall.
What you are looking for with your flashlight is a reflection.
Since all cameras have some sort of lens they will reflect when you point a flashlight at them.
If you notice a reflection, you should investigate the object to make sure it’s not a camera.
Most likely the rental host has given you the Wi-Fi password.
One way to see if cameras are being used is to connect to the Wi-Fi and run a program such as Wireless Network Watcher (there are many apps and programs that do this).
This is a program that will tell you everything connected to the Wi-Fi, allowing you to check to see if there are any cameras or other suspicious devices connected.
Keep in mind the owner could be using a wired system that doesn’t connect to the internet, but most smaller cameras will work on Wi-Fi.
Watch the TV:
A lot of folks who use wired systems will connect it to a hard drive or their existing TV service.
So, when you first get a rental scroll through all the channels.
Also, look at the TV settings to see if there are any other devices connected to the TV such as recording software.
Also, check the home automation system controls if the property has them.
Look at the menu options on all these sorts of devices to see if they mention security cameras.
If you find a hidden camera in your vacation rental, you should immediately call the police.
Explain that you have evidence that the landlord is spying on you. The police should come by and take a report.
Keep in mind that depending on the rental website, some of them allow cameras in common areas.
For me, I wouldn’t rent a property if the landlord is allowed to watch us in the kitchen or common areas as it’s still an invasion of privacy.
The fact is that these types of property rentals are more popular than ever.
But with the convenience of online rentals, there are also risks, and you need to know them and be prepared to safeguard yourself from them.