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Drone Leads To Criminal Case Over Privacy

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Posted at 4:49 PM, Jun 01, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-09 02:41:03-04

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - A Rutherford County man faced charges for criminal trespassing after a father found a drone possible taking pictures over his property while his children swam.

These days you never know who's watching, even in your own backyard. Drones are everyone now and anyone can own them, but did you know they could leave you facing charges?

There is now a bizarre crime in Murfreesboro involving neighbors, privacy and the use of a drone.

Drone technology is amazing and it continues to evolve. Most of the devices have high quality video cameras and that's a feature with obvious potential for abuse.

A Murfreesboro father took a photograph this weekend of a drone hovering over his backyard while his children swam in the pool.

The drone could have been taking video.

The father called police to report an invasion of privacy.

"In this case it's pretty scary when you see a drone flying over your swimming pool taking pictures of your and your family," said Kyle Evans with the Murfreesboro Police Department. 

Evans said the father's complaint has now led to the city's very first case involving a drone and invasion of privacy.

"They could be held criminally and civilly liable for operating a drone over someone else's private property," said Evans.

Detectives canvassing the neighborhood located the owner of the drone. They filed a report for criminal trespass.

"This is a case where the law is keeping up with technology," said Evans.

But just barely. Drones have continued to improve. They are quiet, they easily maneuver, and drones can carry cameras that produce high quality video as good as your HDTV and better.

Officials said it was easy to understand why there are growing issues about privacy, and now we see certain uses of a drone can lead to criminal charges. 

Police said criminal trespass violations involving the use of a drone can range anywhere from a misdemeanor to a felony.

The owner of the drone did not return our calls for a comment. He had not yet been charged with a crime. That will depend on whether his neighbor decides to file formal charges.