14-year-old uses a phantom drone to chase and track down family’s stolen boat
The thieves on Elger Bay on Camano Island would have had it their way, had it not been for two quick-thinking teenagers who spoilt their attempt to steal a boat using a DJI Phantom drone.
Two teenage boys, Chris Harris and a friend, visiting from the San Francisco Bay Area, were staying at their family’s vacation home and had tied their boat to a buoy on Tuesday evening. When they woke up the next day, they heard motorboat sounds and when they looked out their window, they realized that it was their boat that was being driven off.
The boys called 911 and Harris took action.
He took out his DJI Phantom drone that was given to him by his parents as a graduation present for a high speed pursuit through the Saratoga Passage. “We took off, started following them about 50 miles an hour, about 20 feet right above them, tilted the camera down and got a few shots,” explained 14-year-old Harris.
“I was standing there thinking there’s no way to really follow them unless we were in another boat, which we don’t have,” Harris said. He then used the drone to track the boat as far as it let him, but ultimately lost the suspects. However, the footage he recovered was enough for the police to figure out where they were headed, and where they waited and managed to arrest the husband-wife boat thieves when they docked.
The pair was arrested on suspicion of multiple offenses, including first-degree theft and possession of stolen property. Authorities called this a “highly unique and very interesting case.”
The teen said he never expected to use the drone for crime-fighting purposes. “I usually only use it for landscape photography,” he said. “It was all pretty unbelievable.”
However, despite his heroics, Harris seems to know that drone flights are still somewhat uncertain legal grey area. “There’s good things and bad things about drones,” Harris told NBC News, “but if you use them right and properly, then it’s a positive.” In this case, it does looks like the drone actually managed to do some good.
“I think it’s awesome we were at least able to aide in arresting these two individuals,” Harris concluded.