A “PROLIFIC” shoplifter who tried to escape police by hiding in undergrowth was caught out when specialist officers tracked him down using a drone.

Peter Sidney Rosher was wanted for escaping lawful custody on July 25 last year, an assault and series of shoplifting offences, when officers stopped him in the early hours of Wednesday, February 26.

Rosher stopped his Ford Focus in Thornhill and tried to escape police by hiding in dense undergrowth in Bursledon Road. 

Police searched from him in pitch black and one officer was only a foot away from the 33-year-old but could not see him due to the poor visibility. 

But Rosher was unable to evade officers that night.

Specialist officers tracked him using thermal imaging on a drone and then tell the officer on the ground exactly where to look.

Once arrested, police were able to charge him with seven counts of theft from a shop and one count of assault by beating.

He was also returned to court on the escaping lawful custody charge, for which he had previously failed to attend hearings.

Southampton Magistrates’ Court heard Rosher had punched a 25-year-old man in the head twice in Bitterne Road, Southampton, on September 14, last year.

He also targeted Tesco Express stores in Witts Hill and West End Road, Southampton, and Winchester Road, Fair Oak, stealing items on December 16, 18 and 28, January 9, 15 and 20 and February 12.

This included boxes of chocolates, meat and alcohol.
Rosher, of Exeter Road, Southampton, admitted the eight charges and was sentenced to six weeks imprisonment, suspended for a year.

Investigating officer Police Staff Investigator Stephen Hortin said: “Rosher is a prolific offender.

“We know that shoplifting and associated anti-social behaviour has a negative impact on those who live and work in the area.

“I hope that businesses and residents are reassured that we will take action against people like Rosher, who persistently break the law in this way.”

PC Andy Sparshott, of the Hampshire Constabulary and Thames Valley Police Drone Unit, said: “In 2019, we launched a joint project to evaluate the benefits of drone technology and introduce it to the two forces.

“The deployment of a drone at this incident is an example of technology being used to good effect in the support of our colleagues responding to incidents of threat, harm or risk.

“On this occasion, we were able to quickly deploy the drone to the area where Rosher was seen running into and locate a heat source deep within the woods using thermal imaging.

“Use of the drone allowed officers to quickly locate him, minimising the risks to them and Rosher in a dark and hazardous environment, and allowing them to resume their patrol duties quicker than they may otherwise have been able to.”