Police department in Pennsylvania using drone tech to crack down on theft and other petty crimes
05/21/2024 // Zoey Sky // Views

Bensalem Police Department in Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania, has resorted to using advanced drone technology to address theft and other petty crimes in the area efficiently.

The department recently released footage of drones tracking down and helping catch suspected robbers to WPVI, a local ABC News affiliate. The township is located just 30 minutes northeast of Philadelphia. Detective Glenn Vandegrift said their "small fleet" of drones is part of a Bensalem Secure Task Force that was formed to deal with the growing number of retail theft issues in the area.

According to Bensalem Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Bob Norkus, the task force aims to bring the business community together in collaboration with law enforcement to reduce theft with practical and sustainable solutions.

In 2023, the county reported at least 900 retail thefts. The figure is up by nearly 50 percent just four years prior in 2019, when the county reported only 484 retail theft incidents. (Related: NY Home Depot deploys guard dog to protect shoppers from aggressive migrants and thieves in the parking lot.)

The police department claims its drones are effective thanks to the speed at which they can be dispatched and locate suspects. And since the drones are "airflown" and not restricted by traffic patterns or traditional road routes, the police said an operator can usually get a device on the scene within two minutes.

Vandegrift shared that the department's clearance rate for retail thefts is 62 percent. The detective hopes that the success of his department can help inspire other departments to invest in efficient drone technology.

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How the drones work

When a call is made about a shoplifting incident, the Bensalem police quickly dispatch a drone. Each drone is equipped with a camera that allows real-time footage and video recording to search for and go after the suspect.

Once the drone operator locates a thief, the department tracks the suspect until law enforcement officers on the ground can apprehend them.

In one instance, a thief who stole a bicycle was caught using one of the drones. The police received a description of the thief, the bike and the location of the incident.

Soon after, a drone was able to successfully locate and follow the suspect. Using the information sent to the department, the responding officer made the arrest less than a mile away from the shop that was burgled.

The suspect of another undisclosed crime was also seen being arrested in drone footage from the department. Vandegrift said that the perpetrator "would have been able to get away if the drone was not involved."

The video showed the fleeing suspected thief looking over his shoulder as he ran through a parking lot before crossing the road. But after he made his way across the road, two police cars then pulled up and officers jumped out to apprehend him.

Others may think that this is an excessive amount of effort for shoplifting, but Vandegrift believes that it is enough to help reduce crime in the area. "It doesn't matter if it's $20 or $200, we're coming at you just as hard," shared Vandegrift.

The department's drone technology could also be used in other criminal investigations and chases in the future.

The Bensalem Secure Task Force is a collaboration between Bensalem police, local officials and the Bucks County District Attorney's office. Their combined efforts go beyond drones and shoplifting in the area.

Visit PoliceState.news for more stories about how the police deal with crimes in the U.S. and other countries.

Watch the video below criticizing President Joe Biden's anti-police policies.

This video is from the NewsClips channel on Brighteon.com.

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