Aerial drones are quickly becoming an effective tool in the arsenal of law enforcement around the globe. Last year, North Dakota became the first state in the US to allow drones to carry non-lethal payloads while in Tokyo, police are using drones to take down rogue drones.

Now, law enforcement officials in London are considering the use of drones for an entirely new purpose – pursuing suspected criminals.

Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey said crime involving thieves on two wheels is on the rise but noted that police face difficulty in curbing it due to the dangers of pursuing them. In the past 12 months, there have been roughly 3,000 drive-by phone thefts in the boroughs of Camden and Islington alone.

The Evening Standard cites two separate cases in which alleged suspects trying to make getaways on mopeds crashed and were killed. Mackey noted that the pursuit of two-wheeled vehicles is not outlawed but said that there were factors for officers to consider (likely in regard to public safety).

The possibilities of unmanned aerial vehicles to tackle suspects using both two- and four-wheeled vehicles to commit crime, he added, are currently being discussed at a national level by the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s steering group and the Centre for Applied Science and Technology.

Aviation expert Julian Bray told the publication that police could use drones in place of helicopters in such scenarios, citing how they would be much cheaper to operate as well as their ability to aid ground units in a pursuit.

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