Spending some summer vacation boating on Camano Island, Teenager Chris Harris witnessed a pair of thieves untying his family's red zodiac and attaching it to the back of a speedboat before taking off.
Without a second boat to pursue the thieves, Harris, a soon-to-be high school freshman, deployed a DJI Phantom Drone to get a bird's-eye view of the bay.
“I was thinking that over the water was the best way to follow them, because the islands are too dense with trees,” Harris told the Seattle Times. “Once they’re on land, they’re gone.”
With a friend on the line with local authorities, Harris flew the iPad-controlled copter above the thieves collecting 4k video as the boats sped away.
After initially losing the visual, Harris spotted the red 18-foot inflatable heading towards Whidbey Island just before the drone hit it's maximum range and was force to turn home.
Thanks to the tips from Harris and his friends, deputies from the Island County Sheriff's Office knew to head towards the 3700 block of Bells Lane near Langley, where they met the hijackers as they landed on the beach.
The pair, a husband and wife, were arrested first-degree theft and possession of stolen property, as well as suspicion of other offenses.
"This is the first time we've had a drone used in something like this,” Detective Ed Wallace told KIRO TV, a local news agency. “It was quick thinking on their part and if nothing else it helped with identification too."
According to Harris, the drone was a gift he received after making the honor list shortly before graduating.
"I think it's awesome we were at least able to aide in arresting these two individuals,” Harris said.