How videographer used his drone to track down and arrest a laptop thief
A videographer, Ifeanyi Okezie, aka Kelz, has narrated how his drone piloting skills led to the arrest of an alleged laptop thief.
In an interview with The PUNCH, the Lagos-based videographer said it happened while he was with his friend who needed to use the toilet and he needed to buy something, so they stopped across the road from a supermarket. It was on his way from the supermarket that he discovered that all his gadgets – laptop, camera, and so on have been stolen.
In narrating how the incident happened, he said ” I always have my drone with me everywhere I go. That day, I was on the road with my friend who was driving; we had just returned from a location. On our way, my friend needed to use the toilet and I needed to buy something, so he stopped across the road from a supermarket. He got down and crossed over to a bushy area to relieve himself and I was the only one in the car, waiting in the passenger seat. All my gadgets – laptop, camera, and so on – were in the back seat of the car.
“Someone, who had been sitting in the back seat, had wound down the window but didn’t remember to wind it back up when getting down and we didn’t notice that the window was still down. My friend had the car key, so when I got down to get something at the supermarket I locked the door. Before we left the car, we noticed this guy that was just standing aimlessly on the road ahead of us. I wasn’t suspicious of anything because he was by himself.
“After buying the items, I got out of the supermarket and opened the car to drop the stuff I had bought. It was then that I discovered that the laptop was gone while the other gadgets were there. The guy that had been standing in front of us was the only one that came to mind. So, I said what we had to do was find a way to reach out to the police who could help us before the person was out of reach. As my friend was making the call, I decided to fly the drone to look around because it was an expanse where we could easily lose. So, I took the drone up and I had almost 30 minutes of battery power left on it. I started looking around and I didn’t find him. I went in the wrong direction for a long time. Then I went in another direction and I spotted him.
“When I saw him, I didn’t even know he was the one. I saw someone putting on a blue shirt and my friend was like, ‘Bring the drone down, let’s see it well.’ So, I brought it down. It was about 200 feet high at that time. Looking closely, then I saw that the person was carrying a laptop in his hand. The distance from the place I took off to where he was was far, so there was no way for me to know how to get to him. So, the only thing we could do was to start asking people around, ‘Do you know this street? Do you know this building? Do you know where this is?’ We were using landmarks we could see along his path to trail him.”
When asked if the thief had an inkling that a drone was trailing him, he said ” No, he didn’t. While he was walking, my friend was asking people, ‘Do you know this place?’ We started turning to see if we could locate the street. It was really difficult for us to locate it on our own. I lost the signal six or seven times. Eventually, I had a signal and I saw him entering what looked like a kiosk in a slum close to a canal. That was the last place I saw him and then the signal was gone, because it was very far from where we took off. I lost the signal entirely. At that point, I brought the drone down.
“By the time the drone landed, my friend had already contacted the police. They came around and they asked, ‘How do you know where he is?’ I showed them the footage; they saw it and told us that we should get into their van, saying they would take us and keep asking people for directions along the way.
“We went to a couple of places and they kept on directing us. The only landmark we had was a gas cylinder by the roadside. So, we kept asking, ‘Where is cooking gas sold in this area?’ People continued giving us directions until we got there. Immediately we got to the canal and where that gas cylinder was, we were able to follow the narrow road to where the suspect was. When we got there, he was coming out of a kiosk and that was how we caught him.”
His response to if the thief still had the laptop with was “He didn’t have the laptop in his hand, but when the policemen started interrogating him, he said, ‘It’s inside.’ They followed him inside and they brought the laptop out and they arrested him.”