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Crime United Kingdom Technology

Criminals Using Drones To Find Cannabis Farms and Steal Crops 258

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 Khyber ( 864651 ) <> 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 plover ( 150551 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @01:00AM (#46785689) Homepage Journal

    LED lamps do not put out nearly as much heat as High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lamps. I have a (disconnected) 400W HPS that I could easily have cooked on the top of the reflector, and probably broiled meat directly beneath it. I replaced it with a 144W LED floodlamp, and now I can hold the operating heat sink in my hand; the glass lens pane on the bottom is at room temperature. I am no longer concerned about fire safety in my house.

    One major difference, though, is I'm growing orchids, which require far less light than cannabis. I need only two 144W LED floodlamps to illuminate a 72 square foot area. The pot growers will cram as many 400 W lamps in a grow operation as they can, sometimes a dozen or more in a single small room, whatever they can draw from the circuit breaker panel. They'll keep a large external vent fan running year round, including the dead of winter, to keep the room from igniting.

    If I were to grow pot, I'm sure I'd need a lot more light fixtures, but even a dozen LED lamps in the same room probably wouldn't risk burning my house down.

  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @01:38AM (#46785743) Homepage Journal
    Except for that's not how it's panning out in places like Colorado and the Netherlands, where it's largely smaller growers who are making money....
  • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @01:51AM (#46785775) Homepage Journal

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

    Come on, I refuse to believe that these entities are actively working to put more people in prison for no good reason.

    That's bullshit, police unions represents police officers, usually union policies are made by vote.

    I refuse to believe that most police officers want to lock up people for no good reason

    I believe it. In New York City, we had the stop and frisk laws. Officers got caught on tape telling the cops under their command to fill a quota of arrests -- and to arrest black people. Most of the arrests were pot busts after illegal searches. (Possessing marijuana was a violation, not a crime. The cops forced people to commit a misdemeanor by emptying their pockets and displaying marijuana, which was a crime.) That was the subject of a lawsuit, which was also reported on Slashdot. It all came out in court, and Judge Schendlin wrote it up in her written decision.

    The new police commissioner was complaining that cops arrest people towards the end of their shift so that they can get overtime pay. Think about that for a second. They're arresting people so that they can make more money.

    As I recall, one of the strongest opponents of liberalizing drug laws in California was the prison guards' union. It was pretty clear that they wanted to keep the prisons full to protect their jobs.

    That said, they may very well have insights into why weed is bad. They may have experience traffic accidents, etc.

    Oh, yeah. Who has more insight into why weed is bad -- cops? Or doctors, psychiatrists and scientists?

  • by erikkemperman ( 252014 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @02:31AM (#46785853)

    Except for that's not how it's panning out in places like Colorado and the Netherlands, where it's largely smaller growers who are making money....

    The Netherlands here. Not quite. We have this utterly silly situation where the selling of mj is sort of legal, up to a certain weight and only in designated establishments (the famous coffeeshops). However the growing and distributing is quite illegal.

    The mom and pop growers are entirely insignificant compared to organized criminals. The latter produce way more than local demand, so much of that is exported.

  • by erikkemperman ( 252014 ) on Friday April 18, 2014 @04:58AM (#46786211)

    That is correct. Like I said, an utterly silly state of affairs. So the output of these coffeeshops is legal (provided they respect the weight limits, don't sell to underage visitors, etc) while their inputs aren't.

    The way it is now (but this is being debated constantly) we are basically not enjoying the major potential benefit of decriminalisation, which is taking the wind out of the sails of organized crime.

  • by Khyber ( 864651 ) <> on Friday April 18, 2014 @10:34AM (#46787775) Homepage Journal

    "HPS is in the >100 lumen/watt ballpark"

    Only in their more inefficient ranges like 250 and 400w. 600w can get up to 160l/w.

    "LEDs, while capable of much more efficiency when operated at currents below their maximum ratings, usually operate near the same 100lm/W efficiencies when operated at maximum current"

    Current LED tech is 130+ l/w and Cree's already popped 200+ at room temp 5600K 80mA drive with their MK-R, and in the lab, they've already hit 303+ at room temp 5150K color temp and 350mA drive.

    " But a 400W LED fixture would produce nearly the same heat overall. It just wouldn't get as hot ;-) "

    Comparing 400w HID to 400w LED, full power, the LED will produce on average 15-20% less heat, with that heat difference made up as light output.

I don't want to be young again, I just don't want to get any older.