Unmanned flight leaves prison baffled

By Tim Nelson
Updated October 03, 2018
Credit: ©Studio One-One/Getty Images

Life inside the walls of a prison is often both cruel and unusual. One of the many hardships inmates face is the lack of easy access to decent food. Though an age-old problem, some crafty Irish prisoners seem to have hit upon a decidedly high-tech way to get some culinary contraband inside jailhouse walls.

This past week, the Irish Mirror reported that inmates at Dublin’s Wheatfield Prison allegedly made use of a remote-controlled drone piloted by someone on the outside to receive an order of Chinese takeout. Somehow the airborne, unmanned vehicle slipped in and out of the area undetected, dropping its payload in the rec yard under the not-so-watchful eye of prison guards. The only sign of the stealthy sesame chicken (that’s what I would want, at least) order was the empty Chinese food containers the sated inmates left behind.

While the drone itself wasn’t spotted during flight, a source (snitch?) within the prison says it’s simply the only way that such contraband could make it in. “There’s no other conceivable way a Chinese takeaway could get into the prison other than by a drone,” the individual told Dublin Live, “It goes to show inmates will go to great lengths to get what they want.”

The advantage of the drone in the prison delivery process is simple: size and maneuverability. Whereas netting in place above prison yards prevents the tossing of contraband over the fence or the landing of helicopters for a jailbreak, a tiny drone can worm its way above and through in order to deliver its payload.

A spokesperson for the Irish prison service disavowed any knowledge of the event, simply telling the Dublin Live that they “had not heard of any such delivery/incident,” but it seems that officials are at least aware of the need for added anti-drone security measures, possibly including infrared and motion sensor cameras.

And as you’d imagine, takeout isn’t the only thing that drones are dropping above prisons. “A lot of drugs appear to be getting in that way,” the unnamed source told the Mirror. “There’s a running joke it’s like a dial-a-drug service as you just [give] word of what you want, cocaine, spice or whatever, and it’s delivered in by drone.”

The use of drones for smuggling in delicious and/or decadent contraband was perhaps inevitable given how many businesses see a potential for unmanned food and drink deliveries. Maybe next time these inventive Irish inmates should just build the whole drone out of pizza to hide the evidence.