Drone hovers over sunbathing mother and daughter in Auckland backyard

Front NewsNews

(From a New Zealand Herald Article 27 February 2018)

A sunbathing session turned creepy for an Auckland mother and daughter after a drone appeared to spy on them for 30 minutes.

Morgaine Halligan and her mother Melissa Rays were soaking up the sun in the evening in Rays’ private Mt Wellington backyard when a drone started hovering over them.

“I was changing in a fenced-off backyard; when I finished I looked up and saw a drone,” Halligan, 23, said.

“My mum was in her bikini in our private area also. It hovered above us for another 15 minutes.

“It is just creepy as you don’t know what the purpose may be.

“We are worried now. When I come around to my mum’s house we spend a lot time outside, and now we don’t know if a drone will be there.”

The drone appeared at 7.30pm.

Neighbours across the road and from further down the street discussed their own encounters with the same drone.

“It kept going low into peoples’ properties, creeping down driveways.

“It stayed around the street and about 10ms above houses for another 30 minutes, then disappeared to a few streets away where it seems it landed,” Halligan said.

“There had recently been break-ins in the area, so neighbours were afraid people were trying to check out houses.”

The drone returned again a few days ago and was watching Rays in her bikini.

“She only realised when the neighbor came over from across the street and told her there was a drone above her.”

One neighbour called the police and was told to call the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Halligan said.

“It is a private area – there should be repercussions. They can’t just go and film in people’s backyards. I don’t want myself filmed getting changed in the backyard. It is not right.”

The CAA said Civil Aviation Rules required people who wanted to fly drones over people’s homes to get permission from the owners or residents beforehand.

If people suspected drones are being flown over their homes with criminal intent, they should contact the police immediately.

The Auckland Council said drones may be used in public places and parks managed by the council, but users must follow CAA rules.

A police spokesman said the CAA was the enforcement agency, but police were often called to deal with drones.

“If the [drone] operation causes a safety risk to persons, property or other aircraft – potentially breaching the rules – police will respond and take all the details for forwarding to the CAA.

“If a [drone] is used in the commission of a criminal act, police may consider charging the operator with an appropriate criminal offence.”

He said anyone using a drone in New Zealand should ensure they were familiar with parts 101 and 102 of the Civil Aviation Act NZ.