Drones spark warning

Balclutha police have followed their North Otago colleagues in warning about keeping an eye out for drones which may be scoping out farms for potential burglaries.

Police urged rural residents to report suspicious drone sightings after a drone alarmed stock on a Clinton farm at the weekend.

Last Saturday morning police received a report of a low-flying drone over a dairy farm on Old Lake Rd near Clinton.

The farm manager said the drone had "spooked" a herd of cows, which had broken through a stock fence and damaged winter feed.

Sergeant Chris Parsons, of Balclutha, said the incident had been reported to the Civil Aviation Authority, and he asked rural homeowners to be vigilant.

"This incident is being treated as suspicious. The drone may have been checking for unattended property or sheds. We’d ask anyone observing similar activity to report it to police."

Last year, drones were seen flying near North Otago properties at night, and set off alarm bells for some residents.

Four drones were spotted in Springfield and Thousand Acre Rds, near Oamaru, in early August.

It raised concerns ranging from personal safety to drones in the flight path of the Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter.

The sightings were reported to police.

Sergeant Blair Wilkinson, of Oamaru, said last year he understood safety concerns regarding burglaries, but police had never had any cases where such a link had been confirmed.

Drones flying over property caused concern, he said, especially if there had been reports of dishonesty in the area.

Civil Aviation rules state drone users need consent before flying above properties.



— by Richard Davison; additional reporting by Kayla Hodge




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