Drone hovers outside Hawaii Kai woman's bedroom, but no crime was committed

Drone hovers outside Hawaii Kai woman's bedroom, but no crime was committed
Published: Aug. 11, 2015 at 9:12 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 11, 2015 at 10:47 PM HST
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HAWAII KAI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It sounded like a loud fan blowing right outside her second floor bedroom window.  The Hawaii Kai woman, who didn't want her name used, says it woke her up early Monday morning.

"There were these green and red LED's that were coming from the whirring thing and I quickly realized it was a drone outside my bedroom," she says the drone hovered above the privacy curtain for a few seconds. When she walked toward it, it flew off.

The woman called Honolulu Police and the officer did a police report, but what happened wasn't a crime.

"She was very empathetic and pretty mortified also," says the woman about the officer, "I could tell she really cared, but I could tell that she felt the same helplessness that I felt."

There are federal laws that deal with drones but those are height restrictions and no fly zones.  There are Fourth Amendment issues if a drone videotapes someone in a bathroom, or changing, but nothing regarding drones hovering outside a home.

"You're watching somebody sleep that's pretty incredible what an invasion of privacy that is," says the woman, who is concerned about the operator's motives, "Were they looking at us, or looking at the house to maybe burglarize it later?"

"For a drone, nothing is enforced yet except height restrictions and (using it) in crowds," says Shane Lawler, owner of Drones Plus Hawaii, "As far as you going and spying on someone there's no specific rule on that."

Lawler says drones are most often used in open spaces, by responsible hobbyists. The devices could also be helpful for law enforcement and firefighters battling hard-to-reach blazes.  Privacy is becoming more of a concern as more people use drones.

"We don't recommend anybody use it for that kind of mischief," he says.

State lawmakers have tried to introduce bills regarding drone use, but none passed.

The Hawaii Kai woman hopes some laws are put in place soon that would ground drone use in residential areas without a permit.

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