UK criminals may be abusing drone technology
Rural crime officers fear thieves may be using camera-equipped drones to scout out farms in North Wales.
Over the past fortnight four different holdings in Denbighshire have been buzzed by drones with white vans seen nearby. Farmers report watching the drones hovering over their properties for lengthy periods, with one drone seen operating at 4:30AM, when it flew over a dairy farm and was noticed by an early-rising milk producer.
The four sighting reports received by police have all involved farms in the Groes and Nantglyn areas. PC Heledd Wynne-Evans, of the North Wales rural crime team (RCT), said inquiries have so far drawn a blank.
“We are investigating links with people possibly using the drones for surveillance prior to stealing items from farms,” she said. “A couple of drone owners have come forward but they have been eliminated from our inquiries.
“We know a couple of white vans have been seen near the farms at the time but there is nothing that links them directly to the drones. It’s quite possible they were just making local deliveries.”
Police forces are aware that hi-tech crooks have turned to online mapping apps and eye-in-the-sky surveillance to scope remote farms and target valuable equipment.
A number of incidents have been reported in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. Aerial footage enables thieves to gain information about farm movements, entry and exit points, and security such as CCTV cameras.
Groes farmer Iwan Jones said producers in the area were aware of the potential threat and were keeping a close eye on security.
“As farmers we are used to looking out for suspicious people and vehicles coming into the yard to scout machinery to steal,” he said. “However the use of drones is another step up in terms of technology and we’re limited in terms of what we can do about it.
“Even if a suspicious drone is spotted, there’s no way of knowing where its operator is. If police couldn’t find the drone that flew over Heathrow airport, what chance do we as farmers have?”
Mr Jones said social media had been harnessed effectively by farmers to alert the community of potential dangers. Word soon gets around, he added.
Some security firms such as Airvis have taken advantage of farmers concerns to pitch drones at farmers. Equipped with thermal imaging sensors, drones can identify potential intruders in complete darkness for distances up to 2 kilometres away.
Source: Daily Post