Seattle Police Investigate Possible Peeping Drone Outside Woman’s Apartment

By Erin Mizraki

Jun 24, 2014 4:48pm
HT peeping drone mar 140624 16x9 608 Seattle Police Investigate Possible Peeping Drone Outside Womans Apartment

(Courtesy of Lisa Pleiss)

Seattle Police are investigating a possible case of a peeping drone after a woman reported spotting an unmanned craft with a camera hovering outside her high-rise apartment window, police said today.

Lisa Pleiss said she was getting dressed Sunday morning when she spotted the drone buzzing about a block away from her living room window on the 26th floor. The drone then flew down toward the street and Pleiss said she quickly lowered her blinds and called her building’s concierge.

“It was surreal. Initially I was kind of like, ‘Wow, what is that thing?’” Pleiss told ABC News today. “I stared at it for about thirty seconds and once I registered the cameras I felt very vulnerable.”

Pleiss said she managed to snap a photo of the drone.

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The concierge reported the incident to the Seattle Police Department and rushed outside in time to catch a glimpse of the two men who were piloting the drone and who were also equipped with a video camera and tripod, Pleiss said. The men swiftly packed their things into a white Mazda and drove away, but not before the concierge was able to snap a picture of them, Pleiss said.

Both Pleiss and the concierge have handed over their photos to investigators, police said.

The building’s management declined to comment on the incident when reached by ABC News.

Recreational drone usage is legal in Washington state but the Seattle Police Department is looking into whether privacy rights may have been violated, Officer Drew Fowler, a spokesman for the department said.

“It’s certainly ill-mannered at the least and potentially criminal at the worst,” Fowler told ABC News today. “This is a new type of thing. Technology just keeps outpacing legislation.”

Coincidentally, Pleiss used to work at Amazon, which has faced some controversy over its proposed drone usage.

The Federal Aviation Administration released a general statement Monday in response to  recent drone usage. “Guidance comes after recent incidents involving the reckless use of unmanned model aircraft near airports and involving large crowds of people,” the agency said in its statement.

The statement outlined the “do’s and don’ts” of flying drones but did not address privacy issues.

Early this morning, a man who identified himself as the man who sent the drone contacted Pleiss and said he was a small business owner from Portland, Oregon, Pleiss said. The man told Pleiss that his crew was taking photographs of the area for a building they are developing 20 minutes east of Pleiss’ apartment, she said.

He provided his name and number and asked that Pleiss contact him, said Pleiss, who had yet to reach out to him.

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