Criminals ‘using unmanned drones and infrared cameras to find illegal cannabis farms’ – and then steal from the growers

New practice shows how drone technology can be used ‘for both good and bad’, says MP Tom Watson

Criminals in Shropshire have reportedly started using unmanned drones fitted with heat-seeking cameras to steal from and extort illegal cannabis farms.

Apparently taking a leaf out of the book of the police themselves, violent robbers said that the growers make perfect targets because the victims will not report incidents to the authorities.

According to a local newspaper, there has been a huge surge in the number of hidden cannabis farms across Halesowen, Cradley Heath and Oldbury, towns on the outskirts of rural Shropshire some seven miles from central Birmingham.

They require hydroponic lights for the marijuana plants to grow – and the huge amounts of excess heat given off make them easily spottable for a would-be criminal in the know.

One such man, an unnamed 33-year-old, told the Halesowen News that after finding a property with a cannabis farm he and his crew either burgle or “tax” the victim.

“They are fair game,” he said. “It is not like I'm using my drone to see if people have nice televisions. I am just after drugs to steal and sell, if you break the law then you enter me and my drone's world.

“Half the time we don’t even need to use violence to get the crop. Growing cannabis has gone mainstream and the people growing it are not gangsters, especially in places like Halesowen, Cradley Heath and Oldbury.”

The man added that he had started out with the practice in the more built-up area of Handsworth where “you never know who you are messing with”, but came out to leafier suburbs because its “safer and easier to fly”.

Tom Watson, the local MP for West Bromwich East and the chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on drones, told the newspaper that the story shows “the proliferation of drone technology which can be used for both good and bad”.

He said: “It is no surprise enterprising criminals would want to get the upper hand in the criminal underworld by using drones. As a society we will be dealing with the impact of drones on our laws and regulations for years to come.

“And it is time the Government started listening about privacy concerns about the misuse of drones.”

In 2012 the Association of Chief Police Officers reported that 21 cannabis farms were found every day by police in Britain, and that the number of farms had doubled since 2008.

It said the UK is at “significant risk” from criminal gangs who cultivate cannabis on a commercial scale, and that there was also growing evidence of the “taxing” and stealing of crops as well as the use of “debt bondage” to control cultivators.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    2nd Line server support - Microsoft certified

    £25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large organisa...

    IT Support Engineer (1st and 2nd Line) - London

    £22000 - £24000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer (1st...

    Business Intelligence Consultant - Central London - £80,000

    £65000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Intelligence Consultant - C...

    Front end web developer - URGENT CONTRACT

    £250 - £300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT** Our...

    Day In a Page

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?