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June 15, 2022

No hidden cameras found in Philly Airbnb after investigation, police say

The false claim spread on Twitter after it was posted last weekend

Social Media Airbnb
Airbnb Investigation Courtesy of/Airbnb

No hidden cameras were found by Philadelphia police inside the Airbnb property, which was at the center of claims made by a Twitter user posted to social media on Thursday. Details about location of the rental property were never disclosed.

Philadelphia police found no evidence of undisclosed cameras at the city Airbnb rental property that a Twitter user had claimed was filled with concealed recording devices camouflaged to appear like fire sprinklers on the home's ceiling, investigators and an official with the popular home-rental website said.

After visiting the house Tuesday, police discovered no undisclosed cameras at the property, as the woman had alleged in a viral tweet Sunday night. A police spokesperson provided PhillyVoice with this statement on Wednesday:

The Special Victims Unit conducted an investigation into the claims of a hidden recording device inside of a room at a Airbnb. It was later found to be a sprinkler system. This incident is now completed and closed."

And spokesperson for Airbnb also confirmed on Wednesday that police have ended their investigation, and that the woman's rental costs would be fully refunded.

"We have thoroughly looked into this allegation as we do for all safety reports. Today, we spoke directly with the lead detective from the Philadelphia Police Department who responded to the complaint and investigated the property. He confirmed that he did not find any hidden or undisclosed cameras and that the fire sprinklers had regular sprinklerheads. The detective also confirmed that they plan to close this case. Regarding our guest, we appreciate how she felt and we will continue to provide her with our full support, including with a refund."

Twitter user @foxytaughtyou posted her claim Sunday night, including photos and videos of her and her friends walking through the property. The tweet went viral in the following days and remained visible on her account through 1 p.m. on Wednesday, amassing more than 300,000 likes and nearly 7,500 retweets since it was first posted. 

In subsequent tweets, the woman described unsuccessfully attempting to call 911 to report her suspicions to police before ultimately deciding to report it in person. 

In Airbnb properties, undisclosed cameras are prohibited and cameras are never allowed in places like bedrooms, bathrooms and other sleeping areas are prohibited, according to the company's policies for owners listing the homes for rent.

There have been instances of renters finding hidden cameras at Airbnb properties. Among them, a November 2018 incident where San Diego police confirmed there were hidden cameras inside a rental property's bathroom and bedroom after a couple filed a complaint and a July 2021 incident that lead to the arrest of the owner of a Texas bed-and-breakfast rental cabin.