Fuel thieves use drones to track home targets

Thieves are using drones to track trucks delivering home heating oil in north Kerry, it has been claimed.

The hi-tech criminals then swoop on houses which they know to have full oil tanks and steal the fuel once they have established that the coast is clear.

Listowel area Fine Gael councillor Mike Kennelly said mandatory licensing and registration for all drones — not just drones of more than 1kg — is needed.

He wants drone use strictly controlled in local legislation and has submitted a motion to for the February meeting of Kerry County Council, having raised it already at the Kerry Joint Policing Committee meeting.

A householder in North Kerry got a delivery of €500 worth of home heating oil before Christmas. However, within two days, not even the smell of oil was left in the tank, said Mr Kennelly.

He says the householder lives in a cul de sac where there were a small number of houses. “In and around the delivery, drones were spotted in the area,” he said.

We suspect these drones are collecting serious intelligence.

Properties are being cased by drones following the trucks. People are out working and their houses are vulnerable, said Mr Kennelly.

“I do not like drones hovering over anyone. It’s the grossest invasion of privacy imaginable,” he said.

Drones have been spotted over sunbathers on beaches and Mr Kennelly says he suspects a sinister motive here also.

This is the second occasion drone use has been raised by councillors in Kerry. In 2017, drones were startling jarvey horses use in Killarney and the Gap of Dunloe it was claimed.

The Small Unmanned Aircraft (Drones) and Rockets Order (December 2015) governs the use of small unmanned aircraft (SUA) in Ireland.

It requires all drones weighing over 1kg to be registered with the aviation authority, the IAA.

The safe use of drones’ guidance includes specific restrictions such as no flights above 400ft above ground level or be farther than 300 metres from the controller.

Any unauthorised use may be referred to An Garda Síochána for investigation. Data Protection legislation may also govern the use of drones, the Irish Aviation Authority has said previously.

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