Eyes spy from space
A hi-tech version of the doorbell used to alert shopowners to customers has put new crimefighting eyes in orbit over New Zealand.
Its first victims, three alleged Woodhill Forest deer poachers, were caught on Friday night.
The armed men entered the private forest at 10pm and triggered a new hidden intruder detection device, the Scorpion 1000.
The system is the brainchild of Specialist Surveillance Services and uses infrared and seismic detectors like those used to ring door bells in retail outlets.
But it sends its signal straight to a satellite which then bounces it to a computer or cellphone and alerts the user of the exact time and location of an intrusion.
In this case it alerted a private security patrol about the alleged poachers within 90 seconds, Specialist Surveillance Services director and former Rodney policeman Roger Winslade says.
But it can also just be hooked up to a siren for on site warnings, he says.
"The alleged poachers had no idea the private security patrol was closing in on them until they were bailed up and the local police had them in custody.
"Police seized two rifles, knives and hunting equipment."
Charges have been laid relating to the poaching activities and the suspects are due to appear in court.
Trespass action has also been taken against the trio by landowners Ngati Whatua o Kaipara.
Mr Winslade, who is also the owner operator of Woodhill 4WD Adventure Park, says the system has been tested in rural areas of the North and South Islands for more than a year.
It has been deployed in Woodhill for around a month to combat a spate of thefts in the area.
"We have had a lot of problems like generators being stolen and containers being broken into."
The system has picked up a lot of movements by users of the area but it is the first time it has detected anyone out of hours, Mr Winslade says.
He says he is very pleased with the first results, even though the alleged poachers were a bycatch for the system.
"We have worked very long and hard to get our system together, it is brilliant."
The Woodhill Fallow Management Council manages the deer herd.
Council secretary Alec Corban says there are ongoing issues with poachers and their patrols also regularly apprehend them.
"We have been carrying out balloted hunts and we monitor how many animals are shot and issue permits accordingly so the herd doesn't fall below the sustainability level.
"Poachers have a habit of going in and cleaning out whatever they can," Mr Corban says.
That includes young animals, females that are carrying young and females that have young at foot which then die, he says.
The problem is even more dangerous now that Ngati Whatua o Kaipara has ownership of the land under Treaty settlement, he says.
"Their young people are now able to utilise the forest for all sorts of activities and could be in potentially dangerous situations," he says.
"Poachers go in there illegally with firearms and shoot whatever they see moving - it is a serious safety issue."
Offenders usually use suppressors on their firearms so forest users do not realise shooting is occurring around them or what direction it is coming from, Mr Corban says.
People need to realise the forest is now privately owned and they cannot be there legally unless they have the owner's permission, he says.