Friends on weekend getaway say they found hidden cameras in bathrooms of B.C. rental home
Airbnb pulls listing for rental home, RCMP investigating after group reported finding cameras facing showers
A fun birthday weekend trip to British Columbia's Sunshine Coast took a sudden, disturbing turn for a group of friends who say they found hidden cameras in the bathrooms of their vacation rental.
Jamie Gladman and 12 of her friends were celebrating her 30th birthday at an Airbnb rental in Gibsons, B.C., when one of them became suspicious.
Gladman said her friend had recently seen an online video about hidden cameras in vacation rentals and decided to look around — and found a camera in each of the two bathrooms, each hidden in a broken power outlet facing the shower.
"It was on our last night. We're all just trying to have a good time, and suddenly the tone completely changed," said Gladman, adding that the women had been showering the night before.
The group, who had booked a two-night stay in mid-March, went to sleep feeling anxious and left early in the morning, hoping they were wrong about the cameras.
'It's very creepy'
Gladman said she reported it to local police a few days later.
Sunshine Coast RCMP told CBC News they are actively investigating the report, but said they could not provide further details.
Gladman said a few weeks later an officer told her in a text message the home was searched and cameras were found, which were then sent for analysis.
CBC reviewed a screenshot of the text exchange where the officer wrote, "We got the cameras" on April 7.
"It just doesn't sit well. It's very creepy. All we can do is wonder what was done with any of this footage," she said.
Airbnb told CBC News it has suspended the listing in question and refunded the guests as it investigates the incident.
The company's website says cameras are banned in bathrooms and sleeping areas. According to Airbnb's policy, any cameras on a property in a common area must be disclosed to guests.
Kennedy Calwell, who was also on the trip, said she felt violated after the cameras were discovered.
"You don't know who was staying there before us. How long had that camera been in there? There could have been families with children staying there," said Calwell.
She said after the discovery the group began fearing that someone was watching the footage live, and wondered if they knew the cameras had been found.
"The girls started making makeshift weapons and hiding them under the bed. We all slept in one room together," she said.
Advances in technology
Kristen Thomasen, a law professor at the University of British Columbia who specializes in home surveillance, said advances in technology have made it much easier for people to hide cameras.
"Camera and video technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated in ways that allow cameras to be increasingly small and to have the capacity to broadcast information remotely," said Thomasen.
That also makes it harder to figure out who placed the camera there in the first place, she said.
"It really could have been anyone in that kind of scenario," she said. "It could be a guest from 10 guests ago. It's very hard to know."
Gladman said the group can only speculate if the culprit was the Airbnb host, a previous guest, or someone else.
"It's not even just being watched by some person — it also could be distributed and posted online. And who knows what's been done with the videos after?" said Gladman.
Under section 162(1)(a) of the Criminal Code, a person is guilty of voyeurism when they secretly observe or visually record a person who is in circumstances or a place in which they could reasonably expect privacy.
'The harm has been done'
Gladman and Calwell said they have been in contact with a lawyer and plan to take legal action over the cameras they found.
Thomasen said most privacy cases like this often involve women and children and cause harm not just from the threat of the video being distributed.
"The collection alone is a harm, is a violation, even if no one ever sees that footage," she said.
"The fact that the camera was there — [it] causes that kind of disruption to somebody in not knowing what's happened with images of themselves, especially in an intimate space like a bathroom ... the harm has been done."
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story implied that the presence of cameras in the unit had been confirmed. The story has been updated to clearly attribute the claim to the women who rented the suite. Video has also been added to add clarity to the sourcing. An update on the investigation can be found here.
- An earlier version of this story said 15 friends were on the weekend getaway. In fact, it was 13.May 01, 2023 8:28 PM PT