Get off the phone! We might have a drone!

In the early months of the real estate mobbing, a time when the harassers made grandiose statements intended to befuddle and bewitch, claims about winged flying machines were made during the nighttime harassment the mobbers quickly applied in an effort to make my home unlivable:

We might have a drone, one of the mobbers suggested.

Get off the phone! cried another, in mock amazement.

This was before every Tom, Dick and Harry got one for Christmas the year before last, before the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) promulgated regulations on registering unmanned aircraft of a certain weight and class (Unmanned Aircraft Systems,, and before cases like one in the courtroom of Seattle Municipal Court Judge Willie Gregory, in which the operator of an out-of-control drone that knocked out a woman at Seattle’s Gay Pride Parade was sentenced to 30 days’ jail time. This was before drones became reality in the American mind, before Tattoo’s excited cries of “The plane!” approaching Fantasy Island (an American television series, 1977-1984, morphed into the calls of exercised home owners about “A drone!” at the bedroom window.

As what was likely intended to be a quick whodunnit of hoaxing me out of my home became a pitched battle, the real estate mobbers of northeast Seattle fed me story after story, about having access to some Google backend that gave them a real-time aerial view into my home, about having sprayed my bicycle panniers with “GPS spray” that gave them tracking capabilities, and about the potty-cam in my bathroom. This was a time when they played back my phone calls and claimed that my coworkers, my friends and even members of my family were “working with them.” This was a time when they threatened to harm my mother, when they said they would “kill” me online and ritually pretended to do just that, and when they threatened to “kill” me offline as well.

As the property mobbing expanded into constant stalking, my window panes were battered with the nightly neighbor harassment of those who claimed to either “be” or to “represent” members of the neighborhood watch and their speculator friends, the insults and threats of those who demanded that I “Move on!” or “Get out!” because “someone” wanted to build on the lot occupied by my rental home.

Amid the speeches and soliloquies, the insults and the threats, it became clear that harassment required a vast commitment of verbiage. It became clear that in their campaign of terror, the burden of having to constantly spew harassment, to constantly yak and deprive me of quiet, meant there was a good chance that they might make mistakes, that some of what they said might be true, and might even give them away.

When you realize that your captors are giving you information, you can begin to regard them from a different perspective.

Over time, I began to realize that the most logical means of stalking me while I cycled on the Burke-Gilman bicycle trail, the Seattle “bicycle freeway” that runs just below my own street, was a drone. When drones like the GoPro Karma (Karma,, ready-made to follow athletes’ feats of daring came on the market, it seemed to seal the deal.

Based on practicality as well as on the phenomenology of the harassment as I wended my two-wheeled way along the Burke, I had discarded the possibility of mobbers trailing me on bicycle or from 522 and the other roads that run alongside it. In some of my blogs I’ve pointed out how drones could easily point down at the victim house in a mobbing from the roofs of flanking homes that tower above it. I’ve also promised to further explore the likelihood of drones in real estate mobbing in the as yet unwritten conclusion to the blog on unmotivated sound and the narrative of mobbing (See Recommended Reading on the “On being mobbed” blog for links to the series so far.)

In addition to monitoring to protect a crime that is in danger of being exposed, the mobbers’ well-timed “shift changes” might ensure that there’s always a vehicle positioned for the easy projection of sound from a parametric speaker onto my front window panes, or within a network of shared wireless speakers that overlaps my own wireless network. Such an arrangement might also allow for the more mundane chirping of harassing statements from a cellphone or media player left “charging” in a vehicle when the victim of a mobbing leaves her  house to work outside. My experience while being outside, however, is that directional sound is most frequently used, to keep the harassment quiet and to thereby protect the crime. This I am sure of because I can usually “block” the sound by moving behind a tree or a bush, depending on where I am and what I’m doing.

In my case, the driveway of the south mobbing house owner is the south half of a merged driveway whose drives are separated only by a property line and a divider that I installed soon after moving in, when it became apparent that my lease rights would not be respected. This gives the many who come and go from the south mobbing house, parking along the divider or otherwise stacking their vehicles in the driveway, good proximity to my front windows. The unfenced walkway between the two houses provides excellent access to all the windows on the south side of my home and the narrow stretch of soil that separates the two structures has allowed for the south mobbing house owner and his friends to do what one of the mobbers once called “rattlin'” in their attempt to frighten me, the middle-aged woman who rents the house to the north, out of her home.

One of the usual techniques, and this one is also favored by the nasty neighborhood watch lady across the street whose viciousness must travel a greater distance, is to noisily tend the garbage cans which the south mobbing house owner moved close to my dining and kitchen windows. It’s also possible that they put wireless speakers into vessels like garbage cans, however, to create an echoing sound while hiding its origin. Sounds crazy, but “mobbing” or “neighbor mobbing” techniques are part of a clandestine drive to provoke or to  terrorize the victim into fleeing his home and keeping his mouth shut. This means that, from the perspective of the tenant relocators, the crazier the better. If nothing else, the stories of a reporting victim can be used to make him appear to have had a sudden psychotic break. Remember the words of the Gawker writer after experiencing the New York City billboard for A&E, about the focused sound of directional speakers and the possibility of confusing the effect with “hearing voices.” See my recent post, Sound is a pressure, and a tip on getting the most out of acoustic board (part 2), for more on mobbers’ use of sound and hoaxes in forced eviction.

Back to drones, despite the emergence of drones onto the consumer market, there are inadequate protections against drone harassment. In my case, the real estate mobbing predates the awareness of drones, so it’s likely that the real estate mobbers of northeast Seattle or any developers who’ve been trying to increase their ROI (return on investment) by using the same drones they use to survey lands to harass residents off of the properties they want, didn’t expect to have to register their unmanned vehicles with the FAA, something that makes it easier to trace a drone to its owner. Just the same, so far as I know, the drone database is not easily searchable by the consumer, nor do complaints to the FAA about possible drone involvement in harassment seem to meet with any response, not even when the victim has seen drones operating nearby. Further, drones are not yet required to use transponders or to file flight plans. The real estate mobbers of northeast Seattle, who’ve almost certainly been using drones to stalk me at least on the Burke-Gilman bicycle trail and probably in traffic, probably figured that the whole thing would be over and done with in a few weeks and no one would be the wiser.

In some research in the past year or so, I’ve run across YouTube videos showing operators of drones flying them inside buildings to demonstrate their capabilities of obstacle avoidance. I considered that could possibly work in parts of the north mobbing house, which I understand has an open architecture. But it wasn’t until I saw comments from a private investigator on YouTube this last weekend that I considered that drones would be used as remotely controlled cameras on tripods from within vehicles. According to Nick Thomas, an apparent private investigator commenting on a YouTube video about a year back:

There are some PI companies that are already actively using drones. However these are unmanned vehicles simply parked on the road like a normal vehicle, positioned with a view of the house/area in question. These vehicles then have cameras inside of them that can pan/tilt/zoom remotely. Great tool for determining someone’s routine to determine when to hire manned surveillance. Plus, if it is an injury claim, you might get lucky with film of them doing someone in their front yard. People just think of something that is flying in the air when they hear the word DRONE for some reason. (

The idea of stationary drones, whether planted on the ground or mounted within vehicles,  may be less like cameras on tripods, however, than smart devices that can hack by easy range into wireless networks, see by infrared light into structures, listen and record by laser microphone, and emit sound in waveforms that travel in air or in the focused ultrasonic beams of directional speakers.

And if drones that are designed and built to be harassing machines are secreted in brush, on a nearby lot, or in vehicles within easy range of the homes of mobbing victims or any victims of dirty private investigators and those who would hire them, this means that a different approach would likely have to be taken to their detection. With all the devices in vehicles, detecting RF probably wouldn’t be the way to go, although I could be wrong. I’m no expert when it comes to radio, and I’m no mobber. And vehicles used for surveillance probably come with tinted windows. But harassing machines secreted in nearby vehicles means there is another potential attack vector between vehicles parked nearby and the victim homes of mobbing. And if no other emissions or beams allow for detection of the harassing machines from such locations, the use of an acoustic camera, such as that described in Fighting crime with acoustic detection systems (, may show the battering of a victim home’s windows, with the source of the sound traced to a vehicle parked in public view, a nearby lot, or even a tall tree. ▪


Note  In writing this blog, I ran across the following article, about a Torrance, California man who is using a surveillance drone to monitor police activity: California man uses surveillance drone to keep an eye on cops from above, With cases of police misconduct and brutality receiving increasing attention these days, this seems like a form of surveillance that might even do the public some good.



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