Pilot raises fears drones may be aiding organised gangs targeting Suffolk churches

Dan Somers (centre) is concerned drone pilots may be unknowingly helping criminals target Suffolk ch

Dan Somers (centre) is concerned drone pilots may be unknowingly helping criminals target Suffolk churches for lead thefts Picture: SEOMERS - Credit: SEOMERS

A concerned drone pilot has warned fellow aviators may be unwittingly aiding organised gangs targeting Suffolk churches for lead.

All Saints Church in Little Cornard was targeted twice by thieves in February, days after two men fl

All Saints Church in Little Cornard was targeted twice by thieves in February, days after two men fled the church grounds Picture: RACHEL EDGE - Credit: Archant

The warning comes after All Saints Church in Little Cornard was targeted twice by thieves in a matter of days, costing the small village congregation thousands of pounds.

Although accepting that the majority of drone pilots are aware of the law, licensed Ipswich pilot Daniel Somers said he fears some may be assisting criminals without realising it by posting their pictures online - highlighting those churches with lead roofs.

He said: "What people don't realise is that when people fly their drones and take pictures of churches from above, they are helping criminals.

"I think it is going to get worse - I always ask the permission of vicars when I fly over churches. Churches aren't public land.


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"We have to safeguard beautiful places like these churches." The Churches Conservation Trust, which cares for 20 churches in Suffolk, has strict rules regarding drone use and requires all pilots to contact them in advance.

Mr Somers, who works for marketing company SEOMERS and uses drones to aid his ManUp! campaign, urged other drone pilots to reconsider their flights after seeing a number of concerning pictures online, and for the public to report drones flying illegally to the police.

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Mr Somers added: "I always make sure to liaise with organisations including the army, the air ambulance and local police forces before flying.

"People can face a hefty fine if they are not flying legally.

"It is all about making sure you are flying safely and within the law."

The emergency services have, however, spoken of how drones aid the battle in fighting crime and fires.

Suffolk police superintendent Matt Rose said the devices are proving just as effective as a police helicopter.

Speaking previously, Supt Rose said: "It's a long way off from the misconceptions that they are some kind of toy. There are very sophisticated pieces of equipment.

"We will continue to take advantage of advancements in technology to keep people safe."

David Young, air traffic controller at Elmsett Airfield, added: "We have no objection to drones, we all share the same airspace but for that to work, communication is the key."

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