Seattle man uses drone to try to help victims recover stolen property
SEATTLE - Tony, a West Seattle resident, is flying his drone to help car theft victims find their stolen property.
So far, the city has seen more than 2,000 car thefts in 2022, according to recent data.
"People who steal from other people I feel are some of the worst scum on the planet. I hate them," Tony said. "If I can do anything to stop them, or help people who have been victims, I'd like to be a part of that."
The 39-year-old husband and father said he too knows what it’s like for your privacy to be violated. He had his car broken into and had his trailer stolen.
In trying to find his property, he came across a Facebook group called PNW Stolen Cars.
The group led him to a hidden encampment underneath the 1st Avenue Bridge, just off 2nd Avenue and Michigan Street in Seattle's Georgetown neighborhood.
"It's just a big open piece of land. It's completely taken over with trailers and cars and trash-- lots of trash. Absolutely disgusting," Tony said.
That site he discovered is well-known for being a chop shop and where people who appear to be experiencing homelessness are out doing drugs in plain sight.
"I saw somebody walk around with a Sawzall and they were getting underneath a car," Tony said.
Tony captured car after car lined up with several people going in and out of them. Others were completely destroyed.
Taking matters into his own hands, Tony said he’s helped two people recover their cars.
"First one, they saw it, and unfortunately by the time they got down there with the cops, the car was completely destroyed," Tony said,
The second discovery led him on a chase.
"It got to be a little hairy. They were driving on the shoulder, then we got into some residential neighborhoods up in Burien, and they were going really fast and reckless," Tony said.
The thieves caught on, ditching the car, leaving it for the owner to find later.
The results motivated Tony to return.
However, on Monday, the sound of traffic couldn’t disguise his drone, causing things to escalate quickly.
"I saw him pull out a pistol, which at first, I was just shocked at what I saw and then realized he started pointing [it] and wondering if he was going to shoot at the drone," Tony said.
Fortunately, when he zoomed in, he realized it was a BB gun. The pellet hit less than an inch from the drone’s lens.
Tony isn’t shaken and says he’s willing to work with the Seattle Police Department to help crack down on this area and prevent future car thefts.
"Unfortunately, just feels like the police have their hands tied behind their backs and you just can't do anything," Tony said.
FOX 13 has reached out to the mayor’s office and SPD and are waiting to hear back.