Friday, Oct. 21, 2016 | 3:59 p.m.
A Las Vegas man who rented his house out through Airbnb is facing criminal charges after Metro Police allege he used “spy” cameras hidden in bedroom smoke detectors to record guests without their knowledge.
A District Court grand jury last week indicted the homeowner, Christopher Gregory Rogers, on five counts of capturing an image of the private area of another person, a gross misdemeanor, court records show.
The owner of an electronics company and several employees arrived at the house on Jan. 4 to attend the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, according to a Metro warrant. The property was advertised via Airbnb as “Casa De Rogers” and “Oasis Masterpiece in Paradise.”
Airbnb is an online service that allows people to rent out their homes for short periods.
On Jan. 9, the renter discovered a small, hard-to-see camera on a smoke detector pointed toward the shower in the master bedroom, police said. He and his employees then found more cameras concealed in smoke detectors in other bedrooms and contacted police, according to the warrant.
Metro officers served the search warrant the next day and found six live cameras, several uninstalled cameras in a kitchen pantry and a server room where videos were being recorded, police said.
During an initial walkthrough, the guests noticed visible cameras in common areas of the house, but the host told them there were no cameras in the private areas of the home, police said.
Evaluating recordings, police determined five guests from the electronics company were recorded in January, along with three additional guests from a December rental, police said. They all told detectives they never agreed to be recorded.
In a December recording, one of the hidden cameras caught Rogers climb a small step ladder, reach up and adjust it, police said. Rogers “touches the camera several times while adjusting it and appears to be confirming it to be pointing it in the position he desires,” the police warrant said.
According to court records, Rogers is not in custody and is scheduled to appear for an arraignment hearing on Wednesday.
“We’re in the preliminary stages in District Court. Don’t believe everything that you hear and see at first blush,” Rogers’ attorney, Richard A. Schonfeld, said. “We look forward to presenting Mr. Rogers’ side of the story.”
Airbnb spokesman Nick Shapiro said in a statement: “There have been over 100 million guest arrivals in Airbnb listings and negative incidents are incredibly rare. Airbnb takes privacy extremely seriously. There is absolutely no place in our community for this kind of behavior. The host was banned from Airbnb right after the guest reported it.”
The use of security cameras, which are not allowed by Airbnb in bathrooms and bedrooms, must be disclosed, Shapiro said.
The company also runs criminal background checks on hosts, Shapiro said.
“At the end of the day, we obviously can’t eliminate all the risk in hosting or traveling, nor can we guarantee safety, but we work very hard to help hosts and guests have the ability to make the most informed decisions they can. The safety of the Airbnb community is the single most important thing we work on every day,” Shapiro said.