Pop-up

Boarded up window at Make: pop-up store. Photograph by Lisa Martin

At midnight on Sunday, December 6th, an unknown number of robbers broke into the Make: pop-up store in San Francisco, dislodging the shatter proof window and stealing nine Parrot Bebop drones (with a retail price of $499 each). Although the store sells a number of products carried on Maker Shed, the Parrot Bebop — the most expensive drone carried in the store (though not the most expensive item) — appears to be the only product targeted.

Besides being victimized, this is an interesting crime to us for what it might indicate about the growing demand for drones. Rather than stealing jewelry, cash, or laptops, these thieves took drones! This would have been exceptional even a few years ago. Does this mean that there is a particular demand for drones on the black market? Or are are they simply mainstream enough that a thief might reasonably expect to be able to resell them without suspicion? Personally, I think the latter is probably closest to the truth, but this is just speculation.

bebop drone

The Bebop is a compact, capable drone with an HD camera built into its fuselage.

Also interesting: for those who opt in, flights on Parrot drones are recorded, uploaded, and shared on Parrot’s service  (yes, we can and do watch you test your new drone out in your living rooms and back yards). It’s interesting to us to think that we might at some point be able to watch the flights from these stolen — probably not to catch the robbers, but perhaps just to see where they ended up. We’ve asked Parrot if this might be possible, and will update this when we find out.

We don’t yet know if other Parrot Bebop drones are being targeted for theft on a bigger scale, or drones from different vendors — if you’ve heard of this happening elsewhere, let us know.

Also please note that our stolen drones, as retail stock, would not have been FAA registered per their new rules, but this information may be useful to a drone flyer whose personal Parrot Bebop had been stolen.

The Make: pop-up store is located at 345 Sutter St. just a block from San Francisco’s famous Union Square, where designer brands and retail stores cluster around a foot-traffic heavy central square. The store opened on November 19th and will close its doors January 15th. While Maker Shed regularly sells goods at Maker Faires, this was the first time the company has opened a brick-and-mortar pop-up store.

The investigation into the robbery is ongoing; meanwhile, additional security measures have been put in place.