Poor insulation led to drugs raid on police officer's home

A UK drug squad raided Archibald Buttle's Zally Huseyin's house after a police helicopter taking infra-red videos of the neighborhood revealed the house to be "glowing white hot."
The police wrongly suspected that Huseyin (a police community support officer and mother of five) was growing marijuana in her house. It turns out the house had poor insulation and was leaking heat.
But when embarrassed officers searched Mrs Huseyin's house they found the glowing effect was caused simply by large amounts of heat escaping through the roof.

Mrs Huseyin, who has been a PCSO since March 2007, said: "I was absolutely gobsmacked when I realised the police had come to search my house. When I saw the squad car I thought it was colleagues just popping in for a cup of tea.

"I saw the police car pull up and I knew the sergeant. She recognised me when I answered the door. She was shocked and said three times, 'This is your house?'

"They showed me the footage from the helicopter and I couldn't believe it. They said if I hadn't been in they would have broken the door down to get in."

The Cambridgeshire Police helicopter had been flying over on an unrelated job when its infra-red camera picked up Mrs Huseyin's glowing home.

Poor insulation led to drugs raid on police officer's home (via Arbroath)


  1. I find the whole “We are flying around on an unrelated mission with our infrared camera on” thing to be a bit suspect.

  2. Take note: insulate the roof of your grow house. Didn’t he watch Weeds?

    Seriously though, is anyone else far more disturbed by aerial mass-surveillance with FLIR than by someone growing pot?

  3. “I’ve got good news.”
    “You’re not going to go stomping around the neighborhood any more?”
    “No, you can save a lot of money on your energy bills by fixing your insulation.”

  4. the police should provide this as a service, since they’re out scanning the skies anyway. :)

  5. Ahhh, the Uck. The most cameraed-up country on the planet, with a worse rating for personal privacy than Russia.

    I suppose the depressing thing is that this only got reported because it’s a PCSO who got raided – when it’s just us plebs, it doesn’t make the news.

    In a way, I know it’s not the cops’ fault, they’re following Gubment guidelines on indescriminate spying, causeless search-and-seizure and the like – but “just following orders” didn’t stand up too well earlier in history, and it really doesn’t carry water now. Sadly, the english have an enormous capacity for putting quietly up with crap, rather than making a noise. Pink Floyd wrote some lyrics about it, even. This is how the UK got the way it is.

  6. I was suprised to read this at first, as a recent Supreme Court ruling has ruled that using FLIR or thermal cameras is considered unreasonable search and seizure in the US, and an identical case was dismissed in the US. I guess they can still do so in the UK.

  7. Thankfully nobody was hurt. What I fail to understand, this was the first time of a reported mis-reading?

    FLIR needs to step up the training. Keep making mistakes like this and something is going too wrong in a bad way.

  8. I wonder how many times they do this without a specific mission or house to look at? I also wonder how many “false positives” to acctual hits they get.

    It is good to know that they acctually knock on the door in the UK. Here in the USA, they just knock it in!

    Free the Weed
    Leave Us Be!

  9. I’m told by my landlord that the previous occupant of my flat was growing weed in the attic, and was detected in just this way. I’ve been here for eight or nine years, so the polis must have been doing this for at least that long.

    I can’t honestly say I’m terribly disturbed at the thought of the helicopter police doing random scans with their IR. It’s not as though they can see through walls with the things, or even through drawn curtains.

  10. Or was it Tuttle? What a perfect reference to an underappreciated movie. It would have been perfect had they come in through the roof to apprehend him and given his wife a receipt.

  11. I’ve been researching digital thermal imaging (aka “thermographic cameras”) sporadically over the past couple of years.

    The cost of handheld imagers is still quite high, in the low thousands of dollars, and the sensor resolution is quite low, well below even one megapixel. For example, the most commonly available model provides 120×120 pixels with a price tag of over five grand!

    Several vendors have been promising breakthroughs in both price and pixel count, but so far, nothing.

  12. Insulation and some way to defray the cost of your electricity. Around here the newbies tend to get popped a lot because of the electrical spike when they first start running lamps.

  13. NelsonC., in the US they just need a search warrant to use that sort of scanner on your house. I believe it was a Supreme Court case within the last few years that decided it was “unreasonable search” to just scan your house without a warrant. That said, the story was from the UK, so all bets are off.

  14. I don’t know if it’s still done, but around here aerial analysis of heat loss through roofs used to be a valid business. If enough people in a neighborhood signed up you could get a plane to fly over & take infrared photos of the houses. The purpose was to identify opportunities for improving energy efficiency through increased insulation.
    Or was it…

  15. Yeah our Court has also presumptively limited the use of “extra-sensory” surveillance tech without a Court order, IIRC.
    After all tech will only get better, so once the engineers have given them the power they’ll be able to see through your bricks… all you’ll have is the Law to protect you from effectively permanent surveillance.
    Another reason to explicitly codify a right to privacy at a Constitutional level.

  16. It’s not as though they can see through walls with the things, or even through drawn curtains.

    Because you too insulated your walls with layers of Mylar — anticipating just such surveillance?

    Did you also finish your walls with several coats of that “Faraday cage” EM-blocking paint?

    p.s. Ever check the prices of FLIR cameras? Even used ones are well over $5000. Not quite a “tool for the masses” yet.

  17. I think at this point the prudent thing for Ms. Huseyin to do would be to insulate her roof.

    …and then start growing pot.

  18. Does the UK have the flashbang/smoke grenade/I-wish-I-was-Rambo SWAT raids like we have in the US?
    This woman is very lucky that she didn’t end up dead, or have her dogs shot.

  19. MDHatter @18: Sorry, I should have made clear that I’m in the UK too.

    Zuzu @21: I guess it depends what your house walls are made of, but if it’s something that will shade you from the heat of the sun, then it should block direct IR imaging of the interior. Here in the UK, most houses have stout brick walls, because of the sultry climate. All you can see with an IR scanner through brick walls is the heat signature of the wall, not very informative in itself, except in the exceptional case of growing weed with hot lights and without adequate insulation. Or maybe if you were running an illegal nuclear powerplant.

  20. considering that the cost of gas in the UK went up by 35% this week she could bankrupt herself just trying to stay warm.

    Nice how the US and UK invaded Iraq to get the oil and the price more than doubled.

    How f*cking useless are our respective governments.

  21. @30, having pondered your question deeply and at length over the last several years I believe the answer is “very”.

  22. End the useless war on drugs, legalize pot and take the profits out of it. Use your FLIR for a more important war, the war on excessive energy consumption. You just might be doing mankind a service then. ;^)

  23. Nothing new here. One of the major causes of the American war for independence was the crown’s use of general search warrants, called “writs of assistance”. These allowed the King’s officials to search when and where they wanted without worrying about “probable cause”. It gave us our 4th amendment.

    Back then, we free-range Yanks thought this was an issue worth fighting for.

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