A band of large drones appears to be flying nighttime search patterns over northeast Colorado — and local authorities say they don’t know who’s behind the mysterious aircraft.
The drones, estimated to have six-foot wingspans, have been flying over Phillips and Yuma counties every night for about the last week, Phillips County Sheriff Thomas Elliott said Monday.
The drones stay about 200 feet to 300 feet in the air and fly steadily in squares of about 25 miles, he said. There are at least 17 drones; they emerge each night around 7 p.m. and disappear around 10 p.m., he said.
“They’ve been doing a grid search, a grid pattern,” he said. “They fly one square and then they fly another square.”
The sheriff’s office can’t explain where the drones are coming from or who is flying them. The estimated size and number of drones makes it unlikely that they’re being flown by hobbyists, Undersheriff William Myers said.
‘If any of these drones fly onto your property or are looking into windows, please call the communications center immediately,’ the Phillips County Sheriff’s Office posted on its Facebook page Saturday.
Only one drone got close to see through a window, KUSA reported.
Still, the sheriff’s office will investigate all calls and conduct a forensic evaluation to determine who owns the drones. They are following up on all leads and communications with state and federal agencies to pinpoint the exact nature to their activities.
But, Phillips County sheriffs are not overly concerned.
‘We believe that the drones, though startling, are not malicious in nature,’ they added on Facebook.
The drones are too quiet to hear from the ground, but the white strobe lights can be seen from street level, along with red, blue and green lights.
Myers told the Denver Post that he watched eight of the drones head across the Yuma County border at the intersection of U.S. 385 and County Road 54.
He said that at the same time, another drone remained stationary, hovering about 25 miles away over the town of Paoli.
The sheriff’s office said one person was chasing a drone while doing 50 miles per hour in his vehicle, but lost it when he ran out of gas.
While sheriffs don’t know who’s operating them, they do know it’s not the federal government.
The Drug Enforcement Agency also told the newspaper that the drones don’t belong to the agency.
Even if the sheriff’s office does get an identification, those responsible may not face any criminal charges.
‘The way Colorado law is written, none of the statutes fit for harassment or trespassing,’ Myers told the Denver Post.
‘Colorado hasn’t gotten on board with identifying the airspace around your property as the actual premises, so we don’t have anything we could charge.’
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