Authorities have suspected a burglary ring called the “Tub Gang” of pulling heists across the Northeast and Midwest, including in New York and New Jersey. In August, local police in Upper Saucon Township, Pennsylvania, arrested two alleged members of the ring. As NJ.com first reported this week, the men had with them tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of electronics that police say they stole from a Verizon store there.
They also carried a remote-control drone, and on the drone was a video camera, and on the video camera were bird’s-eye shots of New York City and Newark.
CBS reported that the digital footage on the drone’s camera included stills of West 38th Street in Manhattan and highways in eastern New Jersey. NJ.com reported that the footage also included images of the Prudential Center and a movie theater in Newark.
One Upper Saucon officer claimed to have seen a drone flying over the police station the day before the arrest.
Police linked the men, Duane Holmes, 44, of North Bergen, New Jersey, and Chaviv Dykes, of Newark, to the Tub Gang, which is suspected of heists as far west as Illinois and Missouri.
As many outlets have reported in recent months, there are few federal regulations addressing the private use of drones. They can’t go higher than 400 feet and they can’t fly within a few miles of airports. They also, apparently, can’t fly over stadiums filled with people. During the U.S. Open last month, a man was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment for flying a drone above the National Tennis Center during a quarterfinal match. Two other men were arrested in July for flying their drone less than 1,000 feet from an NYPD helicopter in Manhattan.
But you can buy a drone for less than $100, and so more and more are popping up in the skies.
In August, Senator Charles Schumer called on the Federal Aviation Administration and the Commerce Department to release rules specifically for drones.
“New York City has become the wild, wild west for commercial and hobby drones,” Schumer said in a statement. “More and more, small drones are being used by private investigators to spy on unaware New Yorkers or for illegal purposes like drug deliveries, and the lack of clear rules from the FAA holds a great deal of the blame for confusion as to what is legal, and the blatant abuses of this great technology.”