Couple reports hidden cameras in vacation rental.
Longboat Police are hoping to hear from as many tenants as possible who stayed in a vacation rental owned by a man now charged with video voyeurism.
Lt. Robert Bourque of the Longboat Police said 56-year-old Wayne Natt was arrested Sept. 29. He is accused of installing cameras and microphones in inconspicuous locations, such as inside fire alarms, and recording at least one couple without their knowledge. In that incident, a naked man was caught on camera.
According to an arrest affidavit, one camera was found in the property’s master bedroom, aimed at the bed. Another was found in a fire alarm on the living room ceiling.
Natt was released from jail on Oct. 4 on $1,500 bond. He has since pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The case came to the attention of Longboat Police when an Indiana guest called on Sept. 1 to say he suspected hidden cameras were present in 623 Cedars Court, a condo which Natt owns. The man told officers he was familiar with security gear and recognized the possibility of a hidden camera.
Bourque said Natt would stay elsewhere when the unit was rented.
After obtaining a search warrant, officers found the cameras and initially examined images found on a digital SD card. Investigators made a still photo from one video segment of a naked man and showed it to the tenants who called police.
The man identified himself in the photo, which led to Natt’s arrest.
Police are in the process of looking over those images, along with the contents of computer hard drives owned by Natt. Officers are proceeding with care to avoid damaging potential digital-video evidence, Bourque said.
They also are seeking AirBnB records to develop a list of tenants and possible victims.
In an arrest affidavit, Natt told police he owned the cameras and that tenants all knew the cameras were present for the purposes of recording sexual activities and that he wouldn’t record people without their knowledge. He denied turning on the cameras without the tenants’ consent.
Bourque said the AirBnB ad, which has since been removed, contained an stipulation no one under the age of 18 was permitted to stay there.
Ben Breit, who manages public affairs for Airbnb in Florida, said Natt has been banned from doing business on the site.
“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.”
Hidden video of people with normally clothed portions of their bodies exposed rises to the level of criminal video voyeurism, a third-degree felony, Bourque said.
“He said they had knowledge, but the question is why is it hidden,’’ Bourque said. “Why not put up a tripod?”
Bourque said the line about tenants under than age of 18 could have been a deliberate move to avoid inadvertently catching children on camera, which would trigger more serious child-sex charges.
“I think he was trying to prevent that for that reason,’’ Bourque said.
To reach Bourque at the Longboat Key Police, call 941-316-1973.
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