Drone leads police to stolen heavy equipment

Dozers & other loot stashed in Cecil County
Posted at 5:27 PM, Mar 16, 2017
You could call it the “Road to Nowhere"---an obscure lane off of Barksdale Road near the Maryland-Delaware state line and what may have seemed like the perfect place to stash stolen goods that you weigh by the ton.
"Well, the neighbor was letting them store that, but I didn't think anything of it," said Nancy Miller who lives next door to the property where the goods were discovered.
Imagine Miller's surprise when police raided her house in the middle of the night looking for clues to the theft of heavy duty construction equipment.
"We knew it was down there, but there was a lot more down there than I thought," said Miller.
Operating on tips and sightings in the area, police in Cecil County set out to see if bulldozers, front end loaders and trailers pilfered from storage and construction sites in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware were being stored on the site.
They turned to their UAV or unmanned aerial vehicle program, putting their drone in the air for the first time on an actual case.
"During this time, several large pieces of construction equipment were observed to the rear of a large structure on the property," said Lt. Michael Holmes of the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office.
Sure enough, they spotted what they were looking for and obtained search and seizure warrants for the property and for Nancy Miller's home next door although she never saw the actual paperwork.
"They said they had one, but if there's a bunch of cops out in front of your house, you're going to come out," said Miller.
And Miller never spotted a drone over her house, but apparently it doesn't require the same legal scrutiny and probable cause as physically searching the property.
"The judge does not have to sign off on it---just going up in the air to make visual observation in public areas,” said Cecil County Sheriff Scott Adams, “There's a lot of case law that will probably be coming from this or not from this specifically, but as UAVs become more used in law enforcement."
In all, police say the thieves stole almost $400,000 worth of equipment, 20 separate mega pieces in all, and in addition to an Elkton man, other arrests will be forthcoming.

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