GoPro Records Woman Stealing Drone and Falsely Claiming It 'Almost Killed' Her

A first-person view (FPV) drone operator recently crashed his drone in a park where he had permission to fly. While the drone landed at least dozens of yards away from the nearest person, a woman walked the distance with her dog, picked up the drone, tucked it under her shirt, and walked away. The GoPro attached to the drone continued to record the entire incident, including the aggressive verbal language and possibly multiple 911 calls she made as she became rather hysterical and the situation got out of hand.

Watching the entire video makes it clear that this is a case of a person feeling rather irrationally threatened by drone flight. Multiple things simply don't add up throughout the video, from her claim that the drone landed five (later, it shrunk to four) feet from her (it took her well over ten seconds to walk over to the drone), to the almost inaudible phrase where she stated she had no intention of giving the drone back to them or to the police and was going to instead "take it to a park meeting in June," to bragging to her husband about "how casual [she] looked on this" ("this" being the taking of the drone). When confronted by the drone owners, who had asked if she had the drone, she denied it, but followed that up with "I don't think I do."

Drone Guy: Ma'am, do you have that quadcopter?

Woman: No, I don't. I don't know what you're talking about (it's bulging under her shirt at this point). I don't think I do.

Drone Guy: You either give it to me, or I'm going to call the cops.

Woman: That's fine, call the cops, please.

Drone Guy: Hey, Colby! She's got the drone. She won't give it back to me.

Woman: Call the cops, because I already did, because it almost hit me and my dog. It landed next to me. You almost wiped me out. This is illegal in the park.

Drone Guy: No, it's not. 

Woman: Yeah, it is.

Furthermore, her hysterical outpouring of expletives following this altercation escalated the entire situation. After a few minutes of waiting for police, it even sounded as though she called the cops again to complain about how long it was taking (or was complaining to her husband who may have reunited with her at this point after trying to run interference with the drone operators while she walked away).

Obviously, this woman felt threatened. Unfortunately, she had little reason to actually feel so. Interestingly enough, FPV drones are potentially scarier for regulators (and perhaps also for civilians feel it's their duty to become vigilante regulators), since operators are not maintaining line of sight with the drone, but are instead wearing goggles that give them a first-person view as they fly through the air. Naturally, however, responsible operators (such as these) only fly where they have permission in clearly designated areas. This was a glider field (sounds like remote/model gliders, not the larger, human-carrying aircraft) from which this drone operator and some peers received permission to fly.

While drone operators of all kinds need to meet an increasingly stringent set of registration requirements in order to fly commercially, hobbyists may legally do so in airspace not designated otherwise with little effort. Still, public support of drones varies widely. Some see them as another toy or tool that should be regulated as little as possible, while others have grown tired of being subjected to illegal and morally questionable video recording on private property from the sky, close calls with irresponsible pilots flying near people, and even simply the noise from these aircraft. Regardless, it's apparent this woman is "that" person we all have in our neighborhoods. You know, the one that walks straight to city council to report that you threw your candy bar wrapper in another neighbor's trash can that was on the street. 

Hopefully, further education about drones and their uses for both hobby and work will eventually help to gradually rein in public fear about them. Until then, we'll have to enjoy this bittersweet mix of frustration and amusing entertainment every time a GoPro records another "incident."

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wesjones's picture

The video is infuriating to watch.

Anonymous's picture

This lady is seriously unhinged. she went from pretty normal to hysterical really really fast. I get the worry about drones but this didn't look dangerous and it wasn't near her at all. I hope the cops gave her some kind of punishment for being insane and threatening these guys and also for stealing someones property. of course there are idiot drone pilots out there but people like her are making it harder for responsible people to enjoy the hobby. This isn't as bad as the poor kid that got assaulted but these crazy people need to stop hunting down drone owners and going nuts.

Jose Recinos's picture

This is the kind of things that happen when you "let things go". Press charges.

Mark Richardson's picture

Oh brother - this is so painful to watch.

Mark Richardson's picture

I don't understand why drones attract such ignorant crazy people.

Adam Ottke's picture

The world is constantly changing. That's what makes it so scary!!! First, people started to learn how to read books!!! Ordinary people! Can you imagine? Then, photo magic was born. And now we have dark, scary drones that even make loud noises. It's a scary world out there...

james johnson's picture

"Flirting With Disaster: Filmmaker Duo Flies Drone Inside Byzantine Church and the Result Is Beautiful"

That's the title of another FStoppers article from yesterday. The idea that just flying a drone is "flirting with disaster" is rampant even in the photographic community. Never mind that for every article about a drone or drone pilot involved in something horrible, there are thousands of drones out there that aren't involved in any issue.

Mark Richardson's picture

Great point. It's terribly frustrating. Maybe in a few years people will get used to them and start to calm down.

Nick Slade's picture

The title and the article you mention - - was more pointing out the fact that flying a drone inside a building is flirting with disaster - for the drone itself. With walls, ceilings, cramped spaces as well as less GPS coverage (due to the aforementioned) it can be rather difficult resulting in a damaged drone if you were to crash it.

james johnson's picture

I can see that as an interpretation of the title.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

The flirt with "disaster" is to attract attention as the title "Beautiful drone footage in Byzantine church" is a less sexy and dangerous and less click-baity than "FLIRT WITH DISASTER!"
So unless some disaster DID occur the title perpetuates the dangerous outlaw image of drones even in the photo community.

Jacques Cornell's picture

Same with cameras. Since 9-11, every wannabe brownshirt vigilante thinks cameras are the favored weapons of terrorists.

Sergio Tello's picture

My problem with drones is how annoyingly loud they are. It's like a mosquito close to you ear.

Mark Richardson's picture

Agreed. You may have a legal right to fly in a location, but I believe responsible flyers should be courteous to those around them and not cause a noise disturbance.

Ralph Hightower's picture

This was the most boring "Up Blouse" video to watch. She is a "nut case"!

Phil Newton's picture

That's stealing if ever I've seen it. Finds this cool thing, stashes it and takes off with it. Cooks up the story when she's caught. No different to taking a football that landed nearby. She got video and phone stills so she doesn't need to take it. She even admits to wanting to keep it. I'd be trying to get her charged if that was my property for sure.

Binky Bass's picture

Im really really surprised she didnt try to say that he was trying to fly the drone up her shirt for some boob pics..she is a douche nozzle.

Deleted Account's picture

Let's add some more crazy ;)

Jacques Cornell's picture

Equal rights for women means beating them up instead of calling the cops? Really?
Men rape and kill women. And then men wonder why so many women are wary of working with men.
Totally failing to register your point or how it's relevant to this post.

Jacques Cornell's picture

The cops arrived, the dispute was resolved. Nobody had to slug anybody. Given your advocacy of slugging women as a way of granting them equality, I can certainly understand why women would be wary of working with YOU.

Kian McKellar's picture

You're looking for a justification for a fight. In this conversation and in this video.

Kian McKellar's picture


Adam Ottke's picture

I have to say, I think the guy did a pretty good job at assessing his own situation, realizing he could stay out of the way and not react as much as possible until help came. It was kind of refreshing to see him take a bit of a high ground and not use as an excuse to hit her...

He was in enough control and of sound enough mind that he realized that would have been unnecessary. In this case, good call as far as I'm concerned.

Just as a guy hitting another guy might not necessarily require equal and opposite retaliation (we're humans, not random pieces of mass that must always serve up an equal reaction), I don't at all think you can unleash on a woman just because she starts hitting you (that goes for a man or woman being on either end of the punches). At the end of the day, it's really going to depend on the exact situation, what's going on, and how serious it is.

Steven Lear's picture

It's a good thing he had the footage of the altercation, too, otherwise those cops would've automatically taken her word at face value that he attacked her and he'd have spent time in jail an innocent man.

Deleted Account's picture

When Police arrived he got arrested right away, because he is a man and she is a woman. After he showed the video to police they released him.

Mr Blah's picture

The only surprise is she didn't scream "Make america great again" somewhere in there...

I don't have the patience, did the operator report her to the police?

Giles Rocholl's picture

Some people :D...not a very nice woman...her husband should be ashamed of himself too.

Pink Ninja's picture

So awesome that it was all recorded :)

Ernest Birkenstock's picture

There is obviously a lot of friction there about this topic. Its difficult to determine if there were incidents that occurred before this one. But this woman's utter disregard for the truth isn't helping anyone. There are people with real issues out there. In South Africa, our police won't even pitch in this situation. She need's feel some kind of consequence for misleading law enforcement.

q az's picture

She is a thief and stuck to her made up story when confronted red handed. No matter the circumstances she has no right to take it. I would have liked to have learned the police acted upon her criminal behavior. The GoPro video is sweet validation.

Jeff Greene's picture

...and this nutcase ran for the local schoolboard? Luckily the voters sent her a message loud and clear:

Deleted Account's picture

No indication of where this happened? It could all be fake.

Adam Ottke's picture

Of course, anything "could be faked." But I don't think this was. If you're wondering about location, I know she started saying something that sounded like "Placentia" at one point (perhaps on the phone with the police?). I would assume that to be Placentia, CA.

john mowry's picture

So my million dollar question is can it do a 5 exposure bracket in still mode. Use my DJI Phantom Standard to take a 5 exospore bracket sunset photos for HDR work. I would hope the Hero Five Black would do the same.