Navigating the New Era: The Rise of Drone Policing in Modern Cities

A WIRED investigation, which analyzed over 22 million flight coordinates, unveils the complex realities behind America’s inaugural comprehensive police drone initiative—highlighting what might unfold next for other cities across the country.

Dhruv Mehrotra and Jesse Marx

On a Wednesday afternoon in August, Daniel Posada and his girlfriend were engaged in a heated argument at a bus stop when an emergency call was made. From a rooftop a mile away, officers from the Chula Vista Police Department activated a 13-pound drone.

The drone ascended, its high-definition camera capturing and live-streaming every detail. It was outfitted with thermal imaging and an advanced zoom lens, relaying real-time footage to an officer at a precinct, the department’s Real-Time Operations Center, and directly to a smartphone of an officer en route to the incident.

It headed northwest at 392 feet up, soaring above the outskirts of San Diego in a southwestern district. It navigated past a church and a preschool, followed by a banking hub that served Chula Vista’s foreign populace for remittances. The drone—a Matrice 300 RTK, charted across 23 city blocks towards Posada, inadvertently overseeing thousands of unsuspecting locals due to a minor incident unrelated to them.

As Posada cycled along a street, the familiar hum of a police drone’s blades resonated overhead. Moments later, a police vehicle halted next to him and an officer proceeded to search him, he recounted to WIRED. Known as “Focal” in the vagrant community he belonged to, this interaction wasn’t his first, or likely last, encounter with law enforcement through technology.

According to police files, the drone operator and the individual who dialed 911 saw no physical dispute between Posada and his partner that day. Posada insisted that the altercation was trivial and didn’t justify the sophisticated policing methods deployed. His partner was unavailable for comment. Posada argued that the funds spent on drone surveillance would be better utilized in supporting the homeless population by providing food and clothing, especially since their settlements are frequently dismantled, displacing them and discarding their belongings.

“Using a drone for something truly critical would make sense,” he commented, feeling as though he were constantly on their radar. “I feel like a target.”

As police departments look to expand their use of unmanned aerial aircraft, no agency has embraced the technology quite like the CVPD. A model for police departments around the United States, “some police officers joke that visiting the Chula Vista Police Department is like visiting Mecca,” says Jay Stanley, author of a 2023 American Civil Liberties Union report on police use of drones.

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In October 2018, the city became the first in the nation to start a Drone as First Responder (DFR) program, where department teleoperators listening to live 911 calls decide when and where to dispatch the department’s growing fleet of drones. Now those devices criss-cross the skies of Chula Vista daily—nearly 20,000 times since 2018—and are often first to appear above the sites of noise complaints, car accidents, overdoses, domestic disputes, and homicides.

The department says that its drones provide officers with critical intelligence about incidents they are responding to ahead of initiating in-person contact—which the CVPD says has reduced unnecessary police contacts, decreased response times, and saved lives. But a WIRED investigation paints a complicated picture of the trade-offs between public safety and privacy.

In Chula Vista, drone flight paths trace a map of the city’s inequality, with poorer residents experiencing far more exposure to the drones’ cameras and rotors than their wealthier counterparts, a WIRED analysis of nearly 10,000 drone flight records from July 2021 to September 2023 found. The drones, often dispatched for serious incidents like reports of armed individuals, are also routinely deployed for minor issues such as shoplifting, vandalism, and loud music. Early in the Covid-19 pandemic, the city even used drones to broadcast public service announcements to homeless encampments.

Despite the promotion of the DFR program by the police, local residents experiencing this technology daily feel under constant surveillance. Many express concerns about privacy in their own yards, believing drones track their movements on streets, or spy on them at public facilities like pools. A resident reported such distress from perceived drone harassment that it led to a visit to the emergency room due to severe depression and exhaustion.

Drones deployed by the police, outfitted with high-definition cameras and continually operating recorders, have collected hundreds of hours of video capturing daily activities of citizens. Their routes cover private spaces like backyards and publicly sensitive areas including schools, medical facilities, religious institutions, law firms specializing in immigration, and reproductive health clinics. Privacy advocates highlight the challenge in distinguishing targeted operations from broader surveillance, with ongoing debates about the secrecy surrounding the recorded footage.

The Chula Vista Police Department maintains that their drones are not used for random surveillance, nor are they deployed without specific cause, stating that activation follows only after emergency calls or within legal searches. A review of the city’s dispatch logs corroborated this, showing most drone operations correspond to emergency calls. However, not all cases adhere to this; some drone activities remain unexplained, labeled as relating to an “unknown problem,” which has caused concern among citizens and skepticism about the department’s commitment to transparency. Experts suggest these practices exemplify mission creep, where the mere existence of the technology promotes its continued and expanded use.

By Joseph Cox

By Matt Burgess

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By Marah Eakin

Despite concerns, the majority of interviewed Chula Vista residents favor the police department’s drone usage. The initiative is expanding, with an increased number of drones and resources dedicated to the program. Additionally, there is concern among some policy experts as former directors of the Chula Vista drone program have transitioned into positions with drone manufacturing companies, utilizing their law enforcement connections to promote drone programs elsewhere.

WIRED conducted an analysis of over 22.3 million coordinates from CVPD drone flight paths from July 2021 to September 2023, examining drone deployment locations and operational details. This investigation assessed when drone cameras were activated and estimated how much surveillance each Chula Vista block experienced.

According to the findings, an average drone flight covers 13 census blocks, potentially surveilling around 4,700 residents per flight.

The analysis also revealed a socioeconomic disparity in drone surveillance exposure. Generally, less affluent neighborhoods, especially the west side of Chula Vista, which predominantly houses working-class and immigrant communities, were subjected to more frequent drone monitoring compared to the affluent eastern neighborhoods. Drones were recorded over typical west side blocks considerably longer than those over east side blocks during trips to or at incident scenes.

According to the local department, the increased use of drones in western neighborhoods is attributed to higher crime rates in those areas. Records from Chula Vista’s dispatch support this claim, indicating that drone activity is concentrated where there are more service calls.</ist.

This rationale is a reflection of a wider issue observed across the United States, where poorer communities of color are frequently subjected to more surveillance. A study by the Carceral Ecologies Lab at UCLA revealed that in Los Angeles, police helicopters are deployed more frequently and at lower altitudes over Black and Latine neighborhoods, even after adjusting for income and other factors.

Located about 120 miles south of Los Angeles, Chula Vista is a city with a clear division. The eastern part features suburbs with sprawling estates, gated communities, and vast golf courses, signaling a higher expectation of privacy, as noted by a retiree. Interviews with eastern residents reveal a nuanced stance on police drones, acknowledging less drone coverage due to lower crime rates and higher incomes.

A golf course manager on the east side candidly discusses the local situation, stating that drone use is essential in managing what he describes as creeping chaos in some regions. He supports aggressive drone monitoring to tackle criminal activities.

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Both individuals asked not to be named, citing privacy concerns.

The west side, on the other hand, is densely populated, and residents tend to be poorer and tend to be born outside the United States. According to US Census data, nearly half of households on the west side earn approximately $55,000 a year or less—making many of them eligible for free or reduced-price meals at California schools—compared to 19 percent of households on the east side.

Norell Martínez, a 60-year-old professor of English and Chicana/o Studies, has lived on the west side of Chula Vista her entire life. A first-generation immigrant, her parents migrated from Tijuana, Mexico, to Chula Vista when she was a year old. “A lot of people on the west side share a similar background as me; it’s a diverse community,” Martinez says.

Some of the blocks in Chula Vista with the highest exposure to drones are located near launch sites, which happens to be where Martínez lives: a block and a half from police headquarters on a street that is among the safest on the west side. Since July 2021, however, drones have flown overhead at least 959 times, amassing nearly five hours of footage from the sky above her block.

Before the drone program started, her neighborhood was quiet. Now, the buzzing of drones disrupts her sleep. “We invest a lot and make many sacrifices to own a small piece of property,” she states. “It feels like our home isn’t ours anymore; it feels owned by the Chuda Vista Police Department.”

In September 2016, a tragic incident occurred in El Cajon, a city northeast of Chula Vista, where an unarmed man named Alfred Olango was shot dead by police. Olango, who suffered from mental health issues, was behaving unpredictably, prompting his sister to call the police. Devastated, she exclaimed during a Facebook Live video that she sought help, not his death. “Why didn’t you just tase him? I told you he was sick,” she lamented in the video that was taken right after the shooting.

This event, which led to widespread protests, was pivotal in shaping the narrative for the Chula Vista Police Department’s Drone as First Responder program. Retired Captain William “Fritz” Reber, who initiated the drone program, discussed in a 2019 blog post on Police1, the potential benefits of having drones provide a first look at such incidents prior to the arrival of officers.

Records indicate that Chula Vista was contemplating the use of drones for public safety well before the incident involving Olango. Public documents reveal that in December 2015, almost a year prior to Olango’s death, the CVPD had already formed an Unmanned Aerial Systems Committee to explore the adoption of drone technology in their operations.

The UAS Committee’s meeting minutes, obtained through a public records request, reveal that the committee convened three times starting in September 2016 to orchestrate the implementation of the DFR program. From the beginning, the committee emphasized the importance of community engagement and a strategic media approach. A note from a November 2016 meeting stated, “We need to include the media and community more,” highlighting the necessity to avoid any hints of deception or secrecy. On September 14, the committee slated its initial public briefing for September 27—the same day Olango was fatally shot by police.

According to city representatives, before the program’s launch, the CVPD garnered considerable backing from the locals during public gatherings where the details of the DFR program were shared. However, the CVPD has not provided detailed replies concerning its pre-launch community outreach efforts and has not completely responded to a request for records related to these forums from WIRED.

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The earliest recording from a public forum that WIRED could find took place in February 2019 at City Hall—months after the first drone lifted off the roof of CVPD headquarters in October 2018.

When the program officially launched, it was much more modest than envisioned. Limited by Federal Aviation Administration regulations prohibiting drones from flying beyond the line of sight of operators, the department limited the flight of its two drones to a one-mile radius from the main police station. By May 2019, the FAA granted the department a waiver for “beyond visual line of sight” operations, allowing it to fly drones over a three-mile radius. In March 2021, the same month that the Chula Vista City Council agreed to pay for additional full-time police staff, the FAA cleared the department to launch drones across the entire city.</

Not all emergency calls through the 911 system prompt the deployment of drones. The decision to send drones is made by a teleoperator evaluating the calls. According to a detailed report by WIRED, which reviewed 139,522 calls made from July 2021 to September 2023, approximately 7% of these requests in the city involved drone assistance. Drones were significantly involved in responding to nearly half of the incidents reporting armed individuals and about 25% of violent crimes. Additionally, situations requiring mental health assessments and those concerning domestic violence often saw drone interventions, based on information from the city’s records.

In particularly high drone activity areas, the Vistan Apartments on the west side of Chula Vista, which is one of its poorest regions and mostly inhabited by Latine immigrant families, has experienced over 300 drone flights since July 2021. The drones operated by the Chula Vista Police Department (CVPD) have cumulatively circled the area for eight hours during this period, addressing various emergencies, from indecent exposure to an attempted kidnapping.

Jesús López, a resident of Vistan Apartments, recounted a harrowing incident where a suspicious individual violently knocked on his door. His young 3-year-old child opened the door, only for the stranger to attempt to pull the child outside. Thankfully, the babysitter was able to act swiftly, pulling the child back in and securing the door before calling 911. Responding promptly, a police drone arrived within minutes to search for the suspicious individual. Although the suspect was not found, López conveyed through his securely locked door that the presence of police drones has enhanced his sense of security.

López explained to WIRED from behind his locked door, a measure taken as he now avoids opening it to strangers, asserting that the utility of police drones contributes positively to his feelings of safety.

Asked if he sees any downsides to the drones, he says, “Not really.”

In 2022, Chula Vista conducted a survey intended to gauge public opinion about its use of police drones. It found that residents across the board are largely in favor of the DFR program and that, as a trend, the poorer the resident, the more likely they were to support the drone program. “A lot of communities want this, because they see the value and benefit,” says Don Redmond, the captain of the CVPD drone program from 2020 until 2022. Now vice president of advanced public safety projects at Brinc, a company that builds first-responder drones, Redmond helps other agencies roll out their own DFR programs. “If our community was protesting outside of our police department saying no more drones, I’m fairly confident we would have shut down the program.” Instead, Redmond says, “we had people thanking us for doing what we are doing.”

By Joseph Cox

By Matt Burgess

By Matt Burgess

By Marah Eakin

While the survey showed that most residents support the DFR program, there are widespread concerns about potential overreach, such as recording individuals not involved in crimes or sharing footage with federal immigration authorities. In 2020, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the Chula Vista Police Department had shared data from its license plate readers with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in collaboration with Vigilant Solutions. Following public backlash, the city temporarily revoked ICE’s access to this data.

Constitutional law specialists express concerns that lacking proper oversight, the use of public safety drones could become excessive and inappropriate. A July 2023 ACLU report warned that while drones were deployed for major emergencies like fires and violent crimes, they were also being used for minor incidents such as water leaks and a person bouncing a ball against a garage in Chula Vista.

WIRED’s investigation revealed that the Chula Vista police often deploy drones in response to 911 calls for minor complaints such as suspicious people, loud noises, public drunkenness, property damage, and theft. For example, in July, when a local complained about a noisy party, a drone was dispatched and flew over an area where around 2,500 residents live before reaching a silent suburban street in east Chula Vista.

The drone lingered over Roxanna Galvan’s home for three minutes after surveying the party. Galvan, an employee of the San Diego County Office of Education, was initially unaware of the drone’s presence. Despite not opposing the police’s use of drones to monitor activities, she is concerned about the lack of notification when such technology is employed above her home.

To address drone-related privacy concerns, the police department makes data regarding each drone operation available on its transparency portal. This portal allows citizens to access information regarding the purpose of each drone flight. Even though organizations like the ACLU commend the department for its openness, WIRED discovered that about 10% of the logged flights lacked a clear purpose and were not linked to any specific incident or a recent 911 call, with nearly 400 of these flights occurring nowhere near any call locations.

Jay Stanley from the ACLU highlighted to WIRED his worries about the numerous unnamed drone operations recorded. He emphasized the need for meticulous record-keeping by the police, given the advanced and intrusive nature of drone technology. Yet, he also recognizes the department’s efforts in maintaining transparency.

By Joseph Cox

By Matt Burgess

By Matt Burgess

By Marah Eakin

Ahead of Stanley’s report, Chula Vista Police Chief Roxana Kennedy offered him a tour of the department’s cutting-edge headquarters. The department claims it opens its headquarters to civil liberties organizations and media as part of its transparency initiative; however, after a tour scheduled in March by WIRED, Kennedy personally revoked access and refused to make the Drone Forensics Research (DFR) facilities available for the report.

When queried with a detailed list of questions by WIRED, CVPD spokesperson Anthony Molina declined to comment due to active litigation over the department’s denial to release drone footage. Instead of providing a direct statement, Molina directed WIRED to a collection of documents concerning the court proceedings and the department’s response dated July 30, 2023, to an early draft of WIRED’s review, which he described as “superficial and out of context.”

The use of the drone program across a variety of incidents has raised concerns among some experts about its rapid deployment. “This essentially concerns mission creep,” stated Christopher Burr, a senior researcher at the Alan Turing Institute in London. “We’re allowing technology to advance unchecked without truly understanding its impact on us.” This concern is relevant to both the community and the police force itself.

The connection between aerial surveillance and mental health in the U.S. is still not robustly established; the technology is fairly new and controlled studies are difficult to manage. Nonetheless, some authorities believe that the sense of being surveilled might naturally elicit a detrimental psychological response in humans.

Jonathon W. Penney, a legal scholar and social scientist, who is writing a book about the chilling effects of electronic surveillance, expresses that the mere potential for surveillance has a standardizing impact. He references Jeremy Bentham’s idea of the panopticon—an architectural structure designed to keep prisoners peaceful with just one guard. Penney suggests that consistent surveillance, especially backed by state power and authority, might foster conspiratorial beliefs.

WIRED interviewed several individuals from the west side of Chula Vista who claimed they were persistently monitored by police drones, which not only hovered over their properties without a clear reason but also spied on them during private moments.

Such fears are not completely baseless, though incidents like these are not widely reported across the country. For example, on August 27, 2004, officers from the New York Police Department in a helicopter equipped with thermal imaging cameras deliberately filmed an intimate encounter between two individuals on the terrace of a Second Avenue penthouse.

By Joseph Cox

By Matt Burgess

By Matt Burgess

By Marah Eakin

One west side Chula Vista resident showed WIRED a series of cell phone videos he recorded of drones passing by his home or flying over his car while he was out driving at night. He’s convinced that the drones fired laser beams through his bathroom window to intimidate him and spy on his family because he belongs to the city’s low-rider community. WIRED could not find evidence that the CVPD drones are equipped with lasers. The department did not answer detailed questions about the allegation.

His torment came to a head in December 2020. Medical records he shared with WIRED show that he went to an emergency room with Covid-like symptoms; he was suffering from a lack of sleep and says that he complained to hospital staff that the drones were harassing him.

There was nothing they could do about the drones, so they released him, he says. Hopeless, he swallowed a handful of antidepressants in the hospital parking lot and was readmitted for observation. A doctor recorded his justification for self harm: “Nobody was taking me seriously.”

In 2022, the man lodged a formal complaint against the CVPD about the drones. The department did not assign an investigator to look into the complaint and promptly concluded it was unfounded.

As Chula Vista’s use of drones has expanded, so has its arsenal. According to its 2022 “Annual Military Equipment Report,” the department has 32 drones with features that include high-definition cameras—some capable of infrared and thermal imaging—speakers, and lights.

Captain Miriam Foxx, who leads the department’s DFR unit, stated in a 2022 deposition that the protocol is to start recording with the drone’s camera from lift-off through the duration of the flight, allowing for clear footage that is capable of identifying facial features. Despite this capability, CVPD officials maintain that they do not utilize facial recognition technology with drones, although the city’s Unmanned Aerial Systems policy does not explicitly forbid such action. Notably, a state legislation that prohibited this practice expired in 2023.

Chula Vista’s drone policy specifically forbids the use of drones for random surveillance, and from being used to harass or intimidate any individual or group, or for personal affairs. Additionally, it bars the department from arming drones.

The policy also requires drone operators to take “reasonable precautions” to avoid capturing footage of private areas where there is an expectation of privacy. However, flight data indicates that police drones are frequently flown over private spaces like backyards, raising privacy concerns among residents.

Local resident Maggi Baker, who actively helps immigrants with housing and medical care and frequently experiences encounters with surveillance technologies including drones, expressed distress about the pervasive surveillance. Meeting with immigrants at her residence and spotting drones during walks, she described living with constant surveillance as being trapped in a “spiderweb” from which escape is impossible.

Tim Czaja, a resident of Guava Avenue for the past 12 years and living not far from the police headquarters, narrated an incident to WIRED as he walked his bicycle downtown one morning. He described seeing police drones frequently, noting a particular incident where a drone hovered over the nearby public pool. Flight data reveals that this pool has been under drone surveillance 59 times since 2021, accumulating nearly an hour of footage from the area.

By Joseph Cox

By Matt Burgess

By Marah Eakin

The flight data reveal that police drones frequently operate over areas that even the Department of Homeland Security classifies as “protected areas”—zones recognized for their need of privacy due to their provision of essential services or activities. These include places like places of worship, playgrounds, schools, mental health facilities, domestic violence shelters, food pantries, and homeless shelters.

Nearby Chula Vista High School, located about a mile south of a local public pool, has experienced roughly four hours of drone surveillance over two years, linked to 151 separate incidents over its airspace. Although most of these operations were not directly related to the school’s safety, drones have been deployed to the high school for reasons such as “suspicious activity,” missing persons, and physical altercations.

The department claims it makes efforts to minimize the intrusion of drone cameras on privacy. Operators are instructed to closely focus the camera on the relevant incident area immediately after drone takeoff, and at the end of the mission, the drone camera automatically tilts up and zooms out to avoid capturing footage of private properties inadvertently.

However, without access to the underlying drone footage, reporters have no way to verify this claim.

By Joseph Cox

By Matt Burgess

By Matt Burgess

By Marah Eakin

Chula Vista has been restrictive in releasing its drone footage to the public, claiming these are investigative records and disclosing them would breach privacy concerns. Art Castañares, who runs a local bilingual newspaper named La Prensa, has been legally challenging to access this footage. Winning this case could deeply impact the Drone as First Responder (DFR) model going forward.

In 2021, La Prensa requested a month’s worth of drone footage from the Chula Vista Police Department (CVPD). After the request was denied, Castañares initiated a lawsuit against the city, insisting that the drone program should comply with state public records laws. Although initially unsuccessful, an appeals court ultimately sided with La Prensa, ruling that the city cannot blanketly refuse to release drone footage. The decision has now set a precedent at the state level, upheld by the California Supreme Court’s decision not to review the case. The matter will now return to the trial court to decide on the release of specific video records.

Castañares believes that the city’s expenditure of over $1 million in legal fees to block document release lacks transparency and raises suspicions about the withheld footage. “Their refusal to provide the videos makes me question what exactly they are hiding,” he commented to WIRED.</ Bible

When Chula Vista received approval from the FAA to conduct drone operations beyond the pilot’s line of sight in 2019, it significantly raised the city’s profile globally, also highlighting CVPD chief Kennedy. Since then, the city has welcomed journalists and officials from around the world. The Interpol Drone Expert Summit was hosted in Chula Vista in October. Kennedy delivered talks at the CES trade show and discussed “Wide World of Drones” in January, followed by an appearance at the World Police Summit in Dubai in March.

Recently, more police departments, like those in New Orleans, Brookhaven, Georgia, and both Clovis and Redondo Beach in California, have started their drone programs. In May, the NYPD announced its plans to deploy drones in response to alerts from its ShotSpotter system, which has faced criticism for inaccuracies and its predominant placement in low-income, predominantly minority communities.

This technological attention has opened several opportunities in the private sector for those from Chula Vista. William Reber, the architect behind Chula Vista’s drone strategy, left to join Skydio to lead their public safety integration after the company donated four drones in 2019. He later moved to Aerodome in March. Similarly, retired captain Vern Sallee took a position with Axon Air, and retired captain Don Redmond joined Brinc, a company known for its police drone platform LiveOps.

By Joseph Cox

By Matt Burgess

By Matt Burgess

By Marah Eakin

“My hope is that you’re gonna see more of [these] companies that are here take a much closer look at the value of drones and what the future will hold,” Kennedy told the audience at CES. “It might not be the huge money-maker today, but in the near future it’s going to be.”

In Chula Vista, the deployment of drones, especially in the DFR program, has significantly impacted the local unhoused population. Initially, during the pandemic, these drones were utilized to broadcast public health messages to homeless encampments, a move that was criticized as reminiscent of surveillance tactics used by authoritarian regimes. A documented announcement intended to be played from the drones’ speakers stated, “This is a public health announcement. The County Health Officer has issued an order requiring all parks to close, people to stay at least 6 feet away from each other, and your tents to be 12 feet apart.” It also encouraged “voluntary compliance” and shared information about resources like Covid-19 educational materials and sanitation supplies.

However, using drones as a means of communication apparently failed to connect effectively with the unhoused community. Sebastian Martinez, an advocate for the homeless who has collaborated with street medical teams, observed that many were uninformed about Covid during the early stages of the pandemic. He highlighted the importance of direct human interaction, noting that building trust and continuity is challenging when intermediated by a non-human entity.

In a small encampment situated on the west side close to both a cordoned-off park and a county Health and Human Services Agency office, residents like Daniel Posada and Nancy Rodriguez feel the effects of the city’s reliance on drones. Rodriguez expressed her frustration, stating a preference for investments in essential services and housing over technology that provides little real benefit to them.

Nearly everyone at the encampment has a tale about a police drone, but their real daily issue isn’t the flying tech. Regularly, they prepare for sweeps by CVPD officers, sweeping the property and dismantling the site. Such itinerations have been routine to the point that even a Google Street View vehicle once recorded a scene of officers discarding people’s belongings into a dumpster.

“Out here, the idea of privacy just doesn’t exist,” mentions Rodriguez. “Officers routinely invade personal spaces, checking inside people’s tents at will.”

The introduction of police drones in Chula Vista proves one thing decidedly: technology aligns with existing social divides without altering the physical environment.

Last year at the encampment, a man residing near Posada’s shared with WIRED his recent release from jail, targeted by a police drone. He recountedly stole an axe from Home Depot to chop wood, only to discover a drone trailing him shortly after the theft.

He bolted, running through the parking lot before diving into a bush to hide. The drone tracked his every move. It hovered above him, its camera fixed on his hiding spot. Soon enough, a police officer arrived and arrested him. “I was thinking, ‘Oh man, these clocks can go pretty much anywhere,’” he says. “There’s no way I’m getting away this time.”

Years later, it’s the cold efficiency of technology and the image of the robot tracking him as he fled that sticks out in his mind. Sweeping broken glass away from his tent, he says with a shrug: “It did its job.”

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