A suspicious drone hovering over a rural property in Clearwater County was reported to RCMP last month. The drone took off as soon as the homeowners arrived. Black Press file photo

Rural crooks using drones to target properties

Drone hovering over a property in Clearwater County was reported to RCMP

Rural thieves are apparently using drones to scope out potential targets.

Last month, RCMP received a report of a drone hovering over a rural property. When the homeowners returned, the drone flew off.

The following day, a suspicious vehicle was spotted in the same area.

Ken Wigmore, president of Red Deer/Lacombe Rural Community Crime Watch, was familiar with the report, which was posted on the group’s Facebook page in January.

He has not heard of any repeated sightings so far. “That is the only one I’ve come across.”

RCMP, who meet with crime watch members regularly, expressed no surprise that thieves were turning to drones in the never-ending quest for targets.

“That was brought up. (Police) said it’s happening,” he said.

Wigmore is also not surprised at the lengths thieves are going to. He’s heard of all sorts of tricks of the trade for thieves.

There have been reports of vehicles with a yellow light on the roof parked at the end of a road. It is believed the vehicle is used as a lookout, and when someone approaches, the light is turned on to warn thieves breaking into a home nearby.

Another trick Wigmore has heard is the placement of Tim Hortons cups in driveways, indicating a possible target.

There seems to be no end to the length thieves will go to. He has heard an energy company operating in central Alberta is losing tens of thousands of dollars a month in stolen copper wire.

A farmer posted last month that 50 to 60 hay bales were stolen from his property in the Pigeon Lake area, an operation that would have required a skid steer and trucks.

Fuel being stolen from farmers’ bulk tanks is also a recurring problem.

Wigmore said some farmers he knows keep their tanks empty outside of farming season because of thieves. Often, a thief will cut the hose, fill their vehicle, and leave with fuel pouring out of the cut hose.

The crime watch group advises property owners to take steps to protect themselves, such as locking gates, keeping yards well lit and installing cameras.

Red Deer/Lacombe Rural Community Crime Watch’s annual general meeting is set for March 28 at the Hamptons Inn and Suites at 128 Leva Ave. in Gasoline Alley.

For more information, go to www.rdruralcrimewatch.com.

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