Yesterday, I launched HABE 11. It landed after a quick flight in a field near Cambridge. Following the arrival of a fellow HABist to recover the payload, the payload box was found broken open and in pieces. All the equipment inside had been taken.

 

Equipment includes: GoPro HERO 3 camera and multiple tracking devices.

 

Both tracking devices appear to have been disabled, indicating theft. Clear notices were placed on the outside and inside of the payload box indicating a reward if found. As I have yet to receive a call, I now presume the person who has taken the equipment has no intention of returning it.

 

If you are reading this and have taken HABE 11, please understand that a significant amount of time and effort has gone into this flight.

The tracking devices have no use to you or anyone else. They are highly specialised devices for tracking balloons. As stated – there is still a reward if all items are returned to me. Think, and do the right thing.

To get in touch with me please email me or call the number written on the payload.

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UPDATE 05/03/2014: HABE 11 has been recovered by the Police!

I have received some excellent news – the Police have recovered all the components of HABE 11. In my previous post I never mentioned that I had identified the IP address of the person who had taken the equipment (incase it jeopardised the chance of recovery). In the hours after the theft, I received a hit on this blog from an IP located in the vicinity of the landing site. Additionally, after further inspection of the server logs, the hit came from a yahoo search for “HABE Flight Computer v3″. It seemed clear to me that whoever had taken the equipment, went back home and was inquisitive – searching for the exact wording printed on the tracking device onboard.

With this information, I contacted the Police and asked them to make a request to the ISP to reveal the name & address of who was behind the IP at that time (as the IP came from a shared/dynamic pool). After being sceptical that the ISP would release the information just for the theft of a camera + tracking equipment, I was surprised when the Police got in touch to say they had not only been successful in getting the address of the person but had also retrieved the equipment! A big thanks to Northamptonshire Police.

Fingers crossed the SD card has the footage on..

There are a couple of lessons to learn from this. The most important – keep in close proximity to the payload at all times when near the ground.