Police alerted to drone 'checking out' resident's car in Ickenham

Police alerted to drone 'checking out' resident's car in Ickenham Pic credit: File picture thanks to Peter Linehan via Flickr

A DRONE has been seen on CCTV hovering around a resident's garden, apparently checking out a car, in what is feared to have been a possible criminal operation.

Hillingdon police have been alerted after the suspicious activity in Ickenham involving one of the flying robotic devices.

Hillingdon Neighbourhood Watch investigated CCTV footage, which showed a drone, after being contacted by a concerned householder.

The group received a report of "suspicious noise and activity and lights" on the night of 17 July at 11.15pm at a detached house in Ickenham. HNW has kept the road name confidential for security reasons but said it occurred at a “very nice property”.

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Brian Walters, the Vice Chair of HNW, said: “What happened was that a resident in Ickenham heard a strange noise and looking out saw some light moving round their high value car.

“They rang me the next day and one of my team went up to look at the CCTV.

“We have investigated and on the CCTV we can see a drone checking out a car in the front garden of the property. I've never heard of this before in this area, this is the first time I have heard about this in Ickenham.”

The retired police officer said: “This can only be criminal activity.”

The CCTV footage showed there were two men close by with a dog and HNW has informed police.

Other CCTV in the area is being checked out to see if the men can be identified.

HNW said if residents spot similar activity in suspicious circumstances they should report to the police on 101.

The Telegraph last year reported on an investigation by the Suffolk police force into an occurrence where a drone was “used to identify a property for a burglary”.

Paul Ford, secretary of the Police Federation National Detectives Forum, told the paper: “We must remain alive to the potential risks posed by the misuse of technology, but at the end of the day this is a reminder to householders to make sure their homes are secure, and to consider any extra security measures they may need such as a burglar alarm.”

Authorities have become increasingly aware of the potential use of drones for criminal activity and it has been reported earlier this year that such devices have been used to smuggle drugs into prisons.

In October 2014 the UK Birmingham Policy Commission wrote a report on the issue, entitled the security impact of drones: challenges and opportunities.

This stated: “The security threat posed by individuals misusing RPA (remotely piloted aircraft) is a serious one, whether for criminal or terrorist purposes. While the hazards presented by inadvertent or accidental misuse of RPA, or the consequences of their malfunctioning are becoming better understood, more thought needs to be given to their employment for malign purposes in the domestic environment.

“As a small number of cases have demonstrated, RPA present a potentially new and useful tool to those of criminal, including terrorist, intent. For criminals, RPA have significant potential for providing situational awareness of a property or area... They are the ideal lookouts for burglars, train robbers, and poachers.”

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