Drone filmed people taking money out of ATM as they entered their pin codes
A drone has been used to film people taking money out of an Irish cash machine as they entered their pin code, it has emerged.
The unusual incident was one of hundreds involving remote control shop-bought drones across the UK last year.
An investigation has found that the number of incidents reported to the police involving drones surged by 352% from 94 in 2014 to 425 in 2015.
The figures were obtained from Freedom of Information requests, with 21 of the UK's 45 police forces responding.
One remarkable incident recorded by the PSNI in June last year revealed a drone being used to film a cashpoint in Templepatrick as people entered their pin codes.
The witness told the police that when the drone was spotted it flew off and crashed into a taxi.
The police said a male suspect had been forced to pay compensation to the taxi driver, but officers had been unable to prove the footage was being taken with criminal intent.
Drones, quadcopters and multi-rotor helicopters already equipped with 360-degree 4K video cameras, more than twice the quality of HD, are currently available to buy without any registration or permit. Speeds range as high as 70mph for mass produced drones, while potential altitudes up to 10,000 feet make them a threat to aircraft flying in or out of airports.
The numbers also include reports of drones endangering commercial airliners, and being used by criminal gangs to transport drugs, often into prisons.
Sexual offences involving a drone were reported in both London and South Wales, with the Metropolitan Police referring to a case of "voyeurism" and the Welsh force revealing a drone had been used to record a woman undressed in her apartment.
There are also fears that drones could be used by paedophiles, with reports of drones flying over children's areas in Kingswinford, Dudley, and schools in Hemel Hempstead and Northumbria.
David Dunn, a professor at Birmingham University who has led research into UAVs, said there needed to be more regulation. "At the moment, you can buy one of these things in a supermarket without any safeguards. We are lacking accountability or a deterrence," he said.
"The police are being forced to use laws that were designed before the invention of drones fit in terms of personal safety and privacy, but actually what we need is a drone bill through the House of Commons to address the technological challenges."