Laytonville residents on alert after guerrilla drone pilot seen flying over rural properties – Redhead Black Belt
This weekend, Laytonville resident Tiffany Bruce felt compelled to warn her neighbors in Long Valley of a suspicious circumstance her employee witnessed outside of her property. On Saturday, May 22, 2021, his employee was driving at 7:45 a.m. near the 46800 block of Highway 101 when they saw a man outside a van piloting a drone. When the drone pilot noticed that he had been seen, he grabbed the unmanned aerial vehicle and quickly walked away.
The drone pilot has been described as a short, dark haired man not wearing any sort of uniform. His vehicle did not bear any logo that identified him as working in an official capacity.
We reached out to PG&E North Coast spokesperson Deanna Contreras asking if the drone pilot could be attached to a series of equipment inspections that PG&E conducts throughout the region.
After describing what Tiffany Bruce’s employee witnessed, Contreras said the behavior he witnessed was not that of a drone pilot under contract with PG&E. PG&E requires its field workers to wear brightly colored vests, long sleeves / pants, work boots and hard hats. They also wear identity badges.
Another indication that the described drone pilot was not a PG&E contractor, Conteras said, is the fact that he was on his own. All PG&E drone pilots work in pairs, one as a pilot and the other as an observer.
We spoke with Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall about the use of drones for criminal exploits. He said that in many circumstances drones had been used to analyze properties of cannabis, “getting the lay of the land before committing a heist.”
“The Ukiah Police Department chased someone with several pounds of cannabis and found a drone in their vehicle,” Sheriff Kendall told us. He explained that the drone is now part of the criminal toolbox providing an aerial surveillance platform.
As for residents who might feel pressured to shoot down a drone, Sheriff Kendall insisted residents refrain as drone batteries are likely to explode and catch fire, creating a fire hazard. forest.
Bruce described his motives for alerting the Laytonville community to suspicious activity: “When someone is standing at the bottom of your driveway picking up a drone and crossing the freeway, getting in their vehicle and leaving, you don’t really feel comfortable or secure. . “
She knew that “there are thieves who use this technology to sell land, I wanted my community to be aware of that. We look out for each other here.
She told us that her post on the Laytonville / Branscomb community Facebook page had actually attracted someone else who said that they “saw a black van the next day at about the same time, in only a quarter of a mile from the road ‘.
If you are in Mendocino County and suspect that a drone over your property could be used criminally, please contact the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office at (707) 463-4086. If you are in Humboldt County, call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251.