15 Jun 2015
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Are drones the new weapon of choice for Kiwi burglars?

By Shannon Williams

Drones could be the new weapon of choice for Kiwi burglars, according to industry expert Marsden Hulme, general manager of home security company Vivint.

“They’ve been used by the military for 24 hour eye-in-the-sky intel, for crop surveillance in agriculture and even to deliver pizza - but now drones could be the weapon of choice for Kiwi burglars,” Hulme says.

International reports highlight the use of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by thieves around the globe to target private homes, and New Zealand residents could soon be targets too due to what Hulme says is “our lack of current regulations”.

The ‘disturbing’ international trend could take root in New Zealand if regulations do not take potential criminal activity into account,” Hulme says.

He says increasingly affordable technology has meant it is now easy for drones to be purchased by criminals who use the devices to fly over properties and collect footage.

Drones able to give potential burglars detailed intel in real time on who is home, what doors or windows have been left open, and even images of what there is that might be worth stealing, should they wish to break in. 

“Right now these devices are easy to buy, relatively cheap, and there are very few regulations on their use,” explains Hulme. “They are also getting lighter and quieter as the technology evolves and there have already been issues with drones being used for theft in the US and the UK.” 

Hulme continues, “Small drones fall under model aircraft rules, and there is nothing to stop someone flying a drone with a camera on it over your property to film, which could present a fairly serious privacy and security risk.”

Overseas, Hulme says camera-mounted drones have been recovered with footage of various homes and commercial properties that was used to identify burglary targets, and police in those countries were warning homeowners to report any suspicious drone activity in residential areas.

“Unfortunately this poses another real risk for Kiwi homeowners who are concerned about security,” Hulme says. “Our advice for anyone who sees any strange behaviour or notices technology such as this being used in inappropriate ways is to contact their local police station to advise them.”

He adds, “People also need to be vigilant about making sure doors and windows are locked, and alarms are turned on, before leaving the house.”

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