'A grotesque violation': Man says Airbnb suite had hidden camera
A B.C. man who flew across the country for the Toronto International Film Festival says he was surprised to find himself in front of a camera – one that was allegedly hidden inside a clock at his Airbnb suite.
Robert Wallenberg, an engineer from Vancouver, travelled to Toronto earlier this month to attend the annual festival, and rented a Victoria Street apartment through Airbnb for his stay.
It was cheaper than a hotel and there was lots of space, but after returning to the suite late one night after a movie screening, something seemed off.
"I felt some objects had been moved around in my bedroom," Wallenberg said. "I was a bit alarmed and then I saw that I had a message from the host … that's how I knew the guy had been in my place that night."
One thing in particular stood out. Wallenberg said a camera bag he'd placed in front of the bedroom alarm clock – something he did on purpose to block the clock's bright blue LED lights – had been moved.
When he took a closer look at the clock, he said he discovered a hidden camera lens.
"Then I got kind of scared," Wallenberg said. "What if he's watching right now? What if he has an apartment in this building?"
Wallenberg told CTV News he called Toronto police, and immediately set about trying to find somewhere else to spend the night. He was able to get a room at a hotel, where he waited for officers so he could give a statement about what happened.
Toronto police are still investigating, and it's not yet clear whether Wallenberg was recorded in the bedroom during his stay. But the experience still left him chilled, and he decided to share his story to help make sure any other potential victims are warned.
"The camera was in front of my bed. It was aimed at my bed," Wallenberg said. "I just feel totally violated."
The incident bears striking similarities to another that happened in a different part of Toronto just days earlier. Police said they were called to investigate a report of a hidden camera at an Airbnb suite near King and Bathhurst streets on Sept. 7. Wallenberg made his discovery on Sept. 9.
Airbnb confirmed it has removed both hosts from the site, and that the company has offered its help to law enforcement.
"We have zero tolerance for the behavior that has been reported," a spokesperson said in an email. "We take reports of any violations extremely seriously and will investigate and take action as appropriate. Our community’s safety is our priority."
Surveillance devices aren't allowed in private spaces such as bathrooms and bedrooms under Airbnb's policy, the company said.
Wallenberg told CTV News he hopes the company will be contacting previous guests who used the suite as well.
"I just feel totally violated," he said.
With files from CTV Vancouver's St. John Alexander