By DARREN HANDSCHUH
Police in Nanaimo suspect a drone operator was fishing for mischief last week.
BC Hydro contacted the Nanaimo RCMP on Aug. 5 to report hydro crews had been taking down 50-pound test fishing line wrapped around power lines, around trees, across roadways, over houses and through yards.
Sgt. Sheryl Armstrong said RCMP, as well as the B.C. Hydro crews, believe unknown persons were using a drone to fly the wire around the lines.
“Upon further inspection it was noted a small flashlight and headlamp were fastened to the line. Investigators believe this was done so the suspects would be able to see where the drone was flying the line,” said Armstrong, adding there have been similar incidents in the past near the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital helicopter landing pad, which could cause significant problems for air ambulances.
Should the pilot not see the wire there could be drastic consequences if the line became enmeshed in the helicopters rotator blades causing a possible crash.
"This reckless behaviour puts the public and crews at risk. If an accident or outage were to occur, those involved in this negligent behaviour expose themselves to criminal charges and lawsuits for damages as a result of an incident. BC Hydro will seek damages for costs of any work required to repair lines or make them safe,” said Ted Olynyk, B.C. Hydro spokesman.
Armstrong said police recognize that guidelines and regulations around the use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (drones) are continuing to evolve. The RCMP asks pilots to respect the safety tips and guidelines as outlined by Transport Canada.
If anyone has information, call the Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or contact Crime Stoppers atnanaimocrimestoppers.com, text 274637, keyword Nanaimo or call 1-800-222-8477.