When Ryan Sandnes noticed his prized dirt bike was missing from his Duncan, B.C. parking lot last week, he called police.
Then he launched a battery-powered drone into the air to scour the neighbourhood himself for his distinctive purple bike.
The search paid off. Within 17 minutes of launching the drone, Sandnes located his dirt bike beside a tree in a nearby field.
Sandnes, a software developer, sent the drone in the direction of the field after his neighbour told him he'd previously seen stolen items there.
The drone was equipped with a GoPro camera that sent a live feed to Sandnes' smart phone. When he spotted the bike, he lowered the drone's elevation to zoom in for a clear shot.
He was thrilled to have found his bike.
"It's was so stupid that I didn't think it would work," Sandnes said. "And then suddenly the idea worked and there's my $2,000 bike sitting there."
Bike recovered from field
"At first it didn't hit me, but then, that's it, 'There it is. We got to go get that thing now.' So we hopped in the truck and drove straight there."
Enroute, Sandnes called police and told them he'd found his bike. Police met him at the field and released the vehicle to him.
Sandnes said he first discovered his bike was missing last week. It's normally locked to a boat trailer in his parking lot. But a thief cut the lock. Sandnes pored through video from a surveillance camera he had installed and spotted a man leaving the lot with his bike on the morning of Feb. 2., just after 4 a.m. On the video, the man returns about 15 minutes later and takes an ATV vehicle.
Given the thief's swift return, Sandnes knew he couldn't have gone far. He decided to send a drone into the air to find the bike.
RCMP in Duncan confirmed that Sandnes had indeed reported a dirt bike stolen and found it using a drone. They have no suspects.
He said he understands the safety concerns about the public use of the airborne devices, but Sandnes said he's glad he found a "fabulous" use for his drone and camera.