Drones Get Sketchier When You Use Them to Spot Pot Farms So You Can Steal the Drugs

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
April 18 2014 3:46 PM

Drones Get Sketchier When You Use Them to Spot Pot Farms So You Can Steal the Drugs

pot
Spot 'em from the sky.

Photo by Brett Levin.

In the United States and around the world, governments have started using drones, aka unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), for law enforcement, but you could just as easily use them for ... the opposite of that. In Shropshire, England, one man claims he's been using drones to scope out pot farms to steal from. The local Halesowen News caught up with a 33-year-old anonymous thief who's proud of his tech savvy.

I bought my first drone for a few hundred quid and learnt how to fly it over wasteland and fitted a wifi camera to it so I could look into people's windows. However, I noticed police helicopters used thermal imaging cameras to find cannabis farms because of the heat the hydroponic lights give off so I bought a second hand heat-seeking camera online and hooked it up to my Ipad.
Advertisement

The man said that he and his "crew" either steal pot directly or essentially blackmail whoever is running the farm. He added that there's minimal violence involved because pot growing is popular enough that those behind it tend to be average people who aren't interested in or used to physical confrontation.

The criminal wants to protect his anonymity for obvious reasons, but since we don’t know his identity it’s difficult to verify his story or get a sense of how widespread this practice is right now. He makes it sound like it wasn’t that difficult to get the gadgets he needed and start farm hunting. But there are a lot of heat sources out there and, who knows, maybe it takes him and his “crew” hundreds of man-hours to sort through all the data points and find the real hydroponic lights.

Tom Watson, a local parliament member, who is also the chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drones, told the Halesowen News, "This remarkable story shows the proliferation of drone technology which can be used for both good and bad." Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Hat-tip: Ars Technica.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 7:03 PM Once Again, a Climate Policy Hearing Descends Into Absurdity
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 7:23 PM MIT Researchers Are Using Smartphones to Interact With Other Screens
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.