Criminals have started using drone technology

G2GHH5 Man in mask operating a drone with remote control.

In the year 2018, most of us have heard about drones. We first heard about drone technology when America started ordering airstrikes in Afganistan and Iraq more than a decade ago. These days, drones have become popular as a hobbyist activity and children’s toy, but this tech wonder has taken on a more nefarious role.

According to the Carletonville Herald, Criminals have now devised a new plan to outwit residents and police by making use of flying drones.

On Monday, a resident of Aster Drive in Carletonville, Mr Johan Coetzer, showed the Herald a video of the new means that some criminals have now started using. According to him, he and his wife heard a buzzing sound in the air outside their home one evening.

“We could see that our dog, who is very alert and was with us at the time, had heard it as well. We talked about it and decided it must have been the wind,” he said.

It was only after some of their property disappeared from the family’s yard last Wednesday night, however, that the truth came to light. Coetzer says he immediately noticed that something was wrong when he walked out the front door on Thursday morning. After looking around, he noticed that a hose and lights that had been put up in their front yard were missing.

Coetzer decided to view the footage of a safety camera installed on the family’s verandah. The footage, according to the Herald, shows that just after 2 am on Thursday morning, a light appeared above the flower bed closest to the verandah.

Coetzer, a model aircraft enthusiast, immediately realised the light was that of a small, unmanned aircraft carrying a camera, commonly known as a drone.

This was confirmed by the fact that, about three minutes after the light disappeared from sight on the video, a white man in a dark shirt and a light pair of trousers could be seen slipping through the front gate. He clearly knew where the beams of the safety cameras were situated as he crouched to the ground in the areas where his presence would trigger them. He also knew exactly where the lights and the hosepipe were. He snatched the lights one by one before rolling up the hose and disconnecting it from the tap. He then slipped away through the same gate.

“It is clear that the drone scouted where the safety cameras were before he came in. I know there wasn’t much stolen but I want to warn other residents that these things are now happening here as well,” Coetzer said.

A Merafong City Local Municipality Spokesperson said that the South African drone law can be found in Part 101 of the South African Civil Aviation Regulations, and is applicable from 1 July 2015.

According to this legislation, a drone, identified in the legislation as a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) may only be used for an individual’s personal and private purposes where there is no commercial outcome, interest or gain.

The pilot must observe all statutory requirements relating to liability, privacy and any other laws enforceable by any other authorities.

For all other use, an RPA must be registered and may only be operated in terms of Part 101 of the South African Civil Aviation Regulations.

The dangers of the negligent operation of an RPA include collisions with other aircraft, with possibly fatal results, injury to the public and damage to people’s property.

The drone’s controller can be held legally liable for breaking privacy bylaws and other laws enforceable by other authorities.

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