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Drone firm says it did not peep on Seattle woman

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[June 26, 2014]  (Reuters) - A drone that spooked a Seattle woman in her apartment and prompted a police probe of possible invasion of privacy was not trying to catch an illicit image but rather shooting a panoramic view for a developer, the company that operates it said on Wednesday.

The incident on Sunday gained national media attention after the woman called her building's concierge to complain the device might have been used to look into her apartment, and posted a photo online of the drone flying outside her window.

Lisa Pleiss told Seattle television station KCPQ that she was not completely dressed when she saw the drone outside her window. "I kind of, like, hid for a second and got myself taken care of and then I went back out and looked and went to grab my camera and it swooped away really fast," she told the station on Monday.

The concierge called Seattle police, who said this was the first time they had investigated a case of a drone possibly being used to peep on a person at a residence.

Joe Vaughn, founder of Portland-based startup Skyris Imaging, said he and a pilot of the drone were shooting a panoramic view for a client planning to build a 20-story office tower near the woman's apartment building.

Vaughn said he had talked by phone with the woman who complained.

"I called her and let her know I'm sorry she was startled but we were doing an honest job, we were not peeping toms," Vaughn said in a phone interview.

"There were no images taken at all of this woman," said Vaughn, who added that he has contacted police.

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Seattle police spokesman Drew Fowler confirmed Vaughn had reached out to investigators and that he cooperated with them.

"There's no known crimes that were committed during the act and there's no effort to be pressing charges at this time, Fowler said.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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