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Boat thieves thwarted by teens with a Phantom drone

Engadget Engadget 21/07/2016 Andrew Dalton
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A group of teenagers vacationing on Camano Island in Washington State became technology-assisted crimestoppers this week, ABC News reports. 14-year-old Chris Harris and his friend were visiting the island from San Francisco when they spotted thieves in a speedboat untying their own boat they had docked at a buoy the night before. When the thieves took off with their Zodiac in tow, Harris sprung into action and followed them from the air with his DJI Phantom drone, filming them in 4K video the whole time.

"The drone was given to me as a graduation gift from my parents for making honor roll," Harris told ABC News. Although it took a minute to get it airborne, Harris says he flew the Phantom up to 50 mph, floating around 20 feet above the speeding thieves. He was apparently able to keep up long enough to get a great shot of the thieves from above, before he eventually lost track of them. Even so, the footage was enough for the local authorities to make an educated guess as to where the thieves were headed. According to the local Sheriff's Department, the cops were waiting for the boat thieves when they arrived at their destination.

Despite his heroics, Harris seems to know that drone flights are still a somewhat uncertain legal grey area. "There's good things and bad things about drones," Harris told NBC Bay Area, while staring thoughtfully out over the waters of the Saratoga Passage, "but if you use them right and properly, then it's a positive."

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