Burglars using drones to spy on rural homes
It has been revealed that criminals are using drones in remote areas of the country to assist in their effort to break into homes.
Resdients of Littleton, Tipperary, a small village less than 10km from Thurles, spoke of spotting remote-controlled low flying gadgets moving through the sky at night, in the area which is already blighted by burglaries.
The use of these drones is illegal, with some locals saying they are prepared to shoot the devices down.
Numerous homes in Littleton have been targeted by burglars in the past year.
Both US and British authorities have warned of the growing threat of drone use, while gardai say that anyone who spots a suspicious device should call it in without delay.
New legislation makes flying a drone in the dark an illegal activity, while it is also against the law to carry out surveillance on a person’s property.
Garage owner Micheál Clohessy told the Irish Daily Mail that he spotted a drone flying over his Littleton premises twice last November.
“It was about eight o’clock at night. We were out and we spotted it in the sky, we followed its tracking path for about ten minutes but it disappeared.
“One of my neighbours saw it then a few nights after but we’ve had no sight of it since then.
“It’s sinister at that hour of night. You wouldn’t fly it at night otherwise for the risk of losing it but I’d say any farmer who sees one over his land will shoot it down.
“At the height they’re at you’d take one down handy enough.”
John Tully, Littleton resident, stated that these drones are a “big problem”.
He said: “They’re using them to fly over your premises. It’s very common, they’re checking out what’s in the yards, how they will get in, how they won’t get in.”
Drone expert Steve Slade said that the use of drones at night is “reckless” behaviour.
“If you haven’t been flying during the day and you’re not aware of where the pylons are, the telephone poles are, the towers are – because not all towers are lit, they are meant to be but they’re not so if you’re flying at any kind of height at night I would think it’s very reckless and it’s putting people on the ground at risk."
An October 2014 report by experts at Birmingham University on the impact of drones warned of the “serious” threat posed by those using Remotely Piloted Aircraft for criminal purposes.
The report said that drones were “a potentially new and useful tool to those of criminal intent.”
It further stated: “For criminals, RPA have significant potential for providing situational awareness of a property or area. They are ideal lookouts for burglars, train robbers, and poachers.”
In August, Brazilian authorities arrested four men who were thought to have robbed several banks, implementing the use of a drone in the process.
Local media reported that the men used a DJI Phantom Drone to spy on bank employees and their families, as well as to take photos and videos which were uncovered by police.