THOMASVILLE — Employees at a Gordon Avenue business were surprised to see an unmanned flying aircraft hovering near windows at the front of the building late on a recent afternoon.

The aircraft — a drone — had video-recording capabilities, said Lt. Toby Knifer, commander of the Thomasville Police Department Criminal Investigations Division.

An employee told detectives the aircraft was pointed inside the building and appeared to be recording. When the employee stepped outside, the drone flew west and disappeared.

"At this time, we do not know who was flying it," said Knifer, a licensed drone pilot for law enforcement purposes. "It flew away, and we don't know where it went after that."

Law enforcement can use drones for specific purposes and then only with probable cause and a search warrant for investigations.

A civilian drone pilot cannot use a drone for eavesdropping or stalking purposes, the commander said.

"It would be no different than a peeping Tom situation or eavesdropping," Knifer said. "That's a criminal offense and could result in charges."

Detectives are attempting to find out who was piloting the drone looking into windows at the business.

"We need for someone to come forward and determine what the purpose was," Knifer said. 

Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820 

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