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Tracked by drones: ‘With specific details, we looked for man in a red shirt’

On October 10, after two robbers snatched a chain on the Chennai-Bengaluru highway, police deployed 300 personnel and drones to catch them.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai |
Updated: October 17, 2021 8:44:31 pm
A drone being deployed for the Oct 10-11 search. (Express Photo)

On October 10, after two robbers snatched a chain on the Chennai-Bengaluru highway, police deployed 300 personnel and drones to catch them — perhaps the first such deployment to catch small robbers. One of them was shot. They were migrants from Jharkhand.

The Indian Express talks to DIG Sathyapriya, Kancheepuram range

1) Why the big operation?

There have been several recent thefts, and one person was shot in one such attempt. The woman robbed on October 10 had raised an alarm immediately, telling us the two men were armed and giving us details about how they looked and that one of them was wearing a red shirt. We saw an opportunity to catch the two and deployed three advanced drones that could help spot the men.

2) Did the operation continue through the night?

Personnel were deployed at multiple points to sandwich the duo. (Failing to spot them till morning), senior officers feared the two might have escaped the dragnet. Then, at 7 am October 11, we spotted a man coming out of the lake bed, covered in dirt. He told us where the main accused was.

3) How often are drones deployed thus?

The first such use in Tamil Nadu was in February 2014. Following the murder of a software engineer near Chennai, investigators used drone footage to make a 3D image of the crime scene and look for evidence… Drones have also been used for monitoring crowds.

4) How did drones help during the lockdown?

Police used drones to make sure people stayed at home. In a hilarious episode, police spotted a group playing carrom in Tirupur in April 2020. When the drone approached them, people started running.

5) Have police acquired the drones?

The government allocated Rs 90 lakh for acquiring three drones for surveillance purposes.

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