Imagine a few car thieves have fled to a warehouse, where the stolen cars are supposed to be handed over to accomplices. German investigators observe the group, but they threaten to miss the crucial moment. They hear what is happening in the hall through a tilted window, but they see nothing. Until they fly through the window gap with a barely audible nano drone that captures everything for them on camera.

What sounds like a scene from a crime scene crime scene could have been a reality long ago. An EU-wide police project, in which the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) is also involved, apparently bought two very small drones equipped with two cameras for investigations into organized burglar gangs. This emerges from a non-public response from the federal government to a small request from the left-wing faction, the Süddeutsche Zeitung is present. The nano drones are called “Black Hornet” (German: Black Hornet) and are less than two centimeters long and wide. They are manufactured by the US company Flir, which advertises the nano drones primarily for military use. The Bundeswehr also owns models of the nano drone.

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The drones were procured for the EU project “Specter”, which is headed by the French National Police, the BKA and a special office of the Lithuanian criminal police. The aim of the project is to catch gangs operating across borders, particularly in the areas of theft, money laundering and corruption. According to the EU, a total of 450 suspects were arrested and 12 million euros seized as part of the project by December 2019.

In total, technology was purchased for the Specter project for EUR 200,000. In addition to the nano-drones, 40 GPS tracking devices were also ordered to track the location of suspects in real time. In addition, according to the federal government’s list, devices were also purchased with which investigators can determine whether criminals are using frequency jammers. Criminals fleeing can use whines to block radio and cell phone signals around them, for example if they fear that their cell phones will be tracked by the police or that radio sensors are installed in stolen cars.

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