Drone may have been used to spy on teenagers at pool

PHOTO: FILE

A low-flying drone may have been used to spy on teenage girls over the holidays.

The drone was seen hovering over Whero Ave, Diamond Harbour, about 6.30pm on December 27.

Anna Clinch, 14, was in a swimming pool with a teenage friend, when she saw the drone. She believed it was being used to spy on them.

The incident comes as concerns over privacy and safety around the use of drones is on the increase in New Zealand and other parts of the world.

On New Year’s Eve in Auckland, a helicopter pilot had to take evasive action after coming across three drones.

On New Year’s Day, police Eagle helicopter operations were temporarily suspended after a near miss with a drone, also in Auckland. And last month, flights at London’s Gatwick Airport were suspended for three days after a number of drone sightings.

Anna said the drone was flying near power lines. “It just hovered above the pool while we were swimming for about 30sec and we were really concerned about it,” she said.

“We moved out of the way because we thought it was a bit bizarre and went inside. And the drone continued to fly back and forth over the house a couple of times [before leaving].”

Anna said she doesn’t want the drone operator to get in trouble with the law, but said they should keep away from people’s properties.

“Just watch out because it’s kind of weird that there’s a 14-year-old in a pool and there’s a drone hovering over us. We just don’t want to be spied on in a pool.”

Neighbour Carolyn Nicol was packing for a road trip when the drone flew over Whero St.

“I feel like it’s an invasion of privacy. I don’t go wandering around other people’s backyards seeing what they’re up to and what they’re doing,” Ms Nicol said.

She called for tighter regulations over drone use in New Zealand.

The Civil Aviation Authority states drone operators must have consent from the owner of the property they want to fly over.

The CAA does not investigate breaches of privacy, and investigations are dealt with by police.

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