A DJI Phantom drone has been used to track down a boat when two friends noticed some thugs had made off with their speedboat.
Two teenage boys, Chris Harris and a friend, visiting from the San Francisco Bay Area, were staying at their family’s vacation home on Camano Island in Washington. On the Tuesday evening of their arrival they tied their boat to a buoy.
The following morning at around 11 a.m., they awoke to hear suspicious motor-boat sounds coming from the Saratoga Passage, where they had tied their boat the previous night.
After looking out their window, they saw the suspects attempting to steal the boat by tying it to another speedboat. Both Chris and his friend started shouting at the alleged thieves and the suspects took off along with the family’s boat.
The two were shocked. “Nobody steals boats out here,” Chris says.
As the boat was being stolen Chris’ friend, Nick, called 911. Meanwhile, Chris pulled out the secret weapon that would bring the family boat back to them: a drone.
“The drone was given to me as a graduation gift from my parents for making honor roll,” Chris said.
It is a “DJI Phantom with a 4K camera on it,” he added.
“I started chasing them,” Harris tells. “I was flying about 50 feet above.”
Chris’ drone had no problem catching up to the perpetrators. Eventually after chasing the stolen boat the drone ran out of range, but their chase allowed the teenagers to inform law enforcement which way the boat was heading.
Police watched the video from the drone and figured the likely direction that the boat was heading, according to Sgt. Scott Fague of Camano Island Sheriff’s Department.
The two suspects, who were not named by authorities, were caught as they arrived at the presumed area where the officials were waiting. The boat was returned to its rightful owners.
“There’s good things and bad things about drones, but if you use them properly, then it’s a positive,” Chris says.
Authorities called this a “highly unique and very interesting case.”