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Crime United Kingdom Technology

Criminals Using Drones To Find Cannabis Farms and Steal Crops 258

Posted by samzenpus
from the red-eye-in-the-sky dept.
schwit1 (797399) writes "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 with a drone carrying infrared cameras. One such man says that after finding a property with a cannabis farm he and his crew either burgle or 'tax' the victim."
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Criminals Using Drones To Find Cannabis Farms and Steal Crops

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  • by lawnboy5-O (772026) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @11:30PM (#46785403)
    ... to legalize and regulate.
    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @11:51PM (#46785501)

      ... to legalize and regulate.

      That is unlikely to happen in Britain. Politicians won't legalize it because there are too many special interest groups that want to keep the status quo of the endless "War on Drugs" and all the money that flows into it. In America, it has only been legalized in states with citizen referendums, so the politicians were bypassed.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 18, 2014 @12:07AM (#46785545)

        The only reason there were violent gangs who made money selling alcohol back in prohibition was because it was illegal. Once alcohol was legalized, it took a lot of power away from gangs. Legalizing weed would take some money/power away from cartels which is always a good thing.

        • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday April 18, 2014 @12:12AM (#46785557)

          Legalizing weed would take some money/power away from cartels which is always a good thing.

          Sure. But it would also take money/power from the police, police unions, prison guards unions, etc.

          • Legalizing weed would take some money/power away from cartels which is always a good thing.

            Sure. But it would also take money/power from the police, police unions, prison guards unions, etc.

            I perceive that you are paraphrasing the parent.

        • by slapout (93640)

          But giving power to the government is a bad thing.

        • by Sloppy (14984) on Friday April 18, 2014 @10:26AM (#46787697) Homepage Journal

          Legalizing weed would take some money/power away from cartels which is always a good thing.

          It's not a good thing, if your financial interests are aligned with the cartels.

          If I'm on Al Capone's payroll and you ask for my opinion of the 21st Amendment, I'm going to say it's a bad idea.

      • You can easily legalize MJ and continue your money-generatin war on all the other drugs. It's like a token gesture to the people to make them think the government has given them something, while at the same time pacifying them even further. Win/Win (for the government).

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        in britain you can still keep it(the war on drugs). there's plenty of other substances to keep fighting against.

        besides, situation with mj in britain is that if you get caught with a joint/small bag pretty much nothing happens(compared to some other countries where they will raid your property..).

        anyhow, it would be pretty easy to entrap these guys, to extract money from them. setup the lights and cameras, wait with your crew and boom, they pay or go to prison for extortion.

    • by perpenso (1613749)
      It may be to a lesser degree but legal businesses are the victims of theft and extortion too.
    • and in England, where this story obviously hails from, the Acme Boobytrap Catalog will start getting a lot more orders. I should think scimitar installation and bear traps will be big. yes, new technology creates business!

    • by Sloppy (14984)

      [Just one more reason] to legalize and regulate.

      I can see how this kind of story would support legalization (crimes against criminals often go unaddressed), but how would it support regulating? Is theft unusually common with unregulated crops, as opposed to regulated ones?

      (Ignorance plea: Heh, it occurs to me that I don't even know what crops are regulated and what isn't. Maybe agriculture is already totally micromanaged by Washington; I sure hear enough stories of corruption (e.g. subsidies) within the t

  • Duh... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@NOspAM.gmail.com> on Thursday April 17, 2014 @11:32PM (#46785419) Homepage

    In the old days, criminals would just follow others out or use dogs trained to sniff out other peoples grow ops in some farmers field, woods/back wood lot/etc. They're just going hi-tech, nothing to see in that sense.

  • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Thursday April 17, 2014 @11:43PM (#46785473) Homepage Journal

    "They require hydroponic lights for the marijuana plants to grow"

    What the fuck is a hydroponic light? Are we talking sonoluminescence or what? That's gotta be inefficient.

    You mean an HID light, which produces tons of heat and is easy traceable from both ballast noise and heat.

    Shoulda gone LED, suckers.

    • by guevera (2796207)

      LEDs aren't there yet. You can't get cannabis to flower properly under LED lighting, nor can you get the sort of growth rates you'll get under HID lights. It might be useful for cloning...but flourescents work fine for that.

      Also, the newer digital HID ballasts are silent. Even older magnetic ballasts don't make much noise, especially if they're installed properly. Your biggest noise issue is going to come from exhaust fans, but that can be minimized as well if you know what you're doing. Or so I've hea

    • It's funny, but growers usually know more about lighting than most engineers.

      Marijuana plants like direct, intense sunlight. Unfortunately LEDs aren't very scalable. As you increase the current they start to run into physical limitations and the efficiency goes to hell. A 100W led may only put out 50lm/W, where a 1W led could put out 100lm/W.

      HIDs are actually extremely efficient (Around 100lm/W) and scalable (bulbs go up to 1kw+). To get and equivalent amount of light out of LEDs with some sense of efficien
      • by Khyber (864651)

        "Marijuana plants like direct, intense sunlight. Unfortunately LEDs aren't very scalable. As you increase the current they start to run into physical limitations and the efficiency goes to hell. A 100W led may only put out 50lm/W, where a 1W led could put out 100lm/W."

        I'm sorry, we've got plenty of LED systems out there pushing 2,000+ umol from several feet away, like any HID. And typical 100w LEDs are about 130 lumens per watt. Cree has LEDs available for the consumer that at 1w drive get 200+ lumens per w

  • The development of anti-drone weapons is the next step. Small radar-guided missiles the size of a bottle rocket used to destroy "enemy" drones. Or "fighter" drones armed with heat-seeking missiles. It could add a new dimension to the phrase "too close for missiles, switching to guns".

    Of course, as someone has already pointed out, legalizing pot is the best solution. Then the pot growers and the thieves can kill each other off.

    • You don't necessarily even need a hard kill, with the accompanying risks of damage/injury to bystanders and their property...

      Thanks at least in part to the robust market for green diode-pumped solid state lasers, moderately alarming and dangerous IR lasers are ubiquitous and cheap. Depending on the quality of your optics and the robustness of theirs, outcomes ranging from temporary washout of the image to swift and permanent death of the imager are highly likely.
    • by advid.net (595837) <(slashdot) (at) (advid.net)> on Friday April 18, 2014 @03:38AM (#46786019) Journal

      The best answer would be a Net Gun.

      From market [ebay.com] or DIY [instructables.com]. That's $400 or $60-$80.

      I think many of the catched drone parts can be salvaged, after the fall.

      • by McDrewbie (530348)
        Net Gun would only work for low flying, slow speed ones (unless you have a huge net.) Same problem one would have with birdshot. Other anti-drone/UAV tech is needed. But how does one encourage the development of anti-drone technology. I assume various militaries are either trying to develop or have developed some technologies/strategies to combat drones (but are keeping them closely held until they need them (or I am over-estimating their foresight and intelligence.) But also, in the case of drones bein
  • Economic Threat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ukab the Great (87152) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @11:55PM (#46785517)

    This will lead to thousands of drug enforcement pilot jobs getting offshored to afghanistan where militants can remotely fly drug search drones around England for 100th of the price of a guy in a Cessna.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Jim Sadler (3430529)
      Or we could just let people in the drug trade murder each other and let it be known that we will turn a blind eye to such murders.
  • Where? (Score:5, Funny)

    by freeze128 (544774) on Friday April 18, 2014 @12:35AM (#46785629)
    Halesowen? Cradley Heath? Oldbury? Shropshire? Where are these towns, Middle Earth?
  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Friday April 18, 2014 @12:38AM (#46785641)

    Many growers have been doing this for years. Its not a big deal. You dig out a big hole in the ground, line it with concrete, throw a roof on it, and then pile dirt on top of the roof. No infrared signature.

    You can even put it under your house or another greenhouse that has vegetables and flowers. If anyone quizzes you about all the materials you say its for that.

    There is an issue with the smell. Nothing you can really do about dogs besides creating a hermetically sealed compartment that has very serious airfilters. Which is sort of the Walter White solution.

    Anyway, build underground... its easy and works.

    • I've been wondering why someone don't just dump a sack of seed in a river and then all pot heads can harvest it for 2000 km all the way to the sea. After all, it is called 'weed' for a reason.
      • by dargaud (518470)
        Couple years ago there was a town where some pranksters had it seeded and growing everywhere, even in that plaza fountain in the middle of town hall.
      • by swb (14022)

        A guy I used to know in college was from a rural area. There was a small river that was navigable by canoe, and his brother used to go canoeing in the spring and plant seeds along the river.

        He'd make a few trips during the summer to check up on them, in the fall he'd come by, cut them down to dry and then make one last trip to pick up the most promising plants.

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      Hmm, the electric company will still spot and report your usage, unless you supply your own power.

      • if you're going to the trouble to build an underground green house then you can go to the trouble to put a few solar panels/wind mill out with a battery bank.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    According to a newspaper article in sweden (translated) [www.svd.se]
    Drug dealers have set up webcams to be able to monitor police activity in the area.

  • I've seen a number of indoor hydroponic installations. They all seem to have gone to LEDs. And these are for food production (exotic herbs, vegetables, etc.). What with the big money in pots grows, the extra investment should be a no-brainer. So much for the heat signature giving the location away to thieves or the local constables.

    Yeah, I've heard the arguments that LED lighting isn't 'natural'. But some of the food farmers using these are on the cutting edge of holistic organic naturaopathic bullshit. An

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