These Are This Year’s Best Airborne Police Chase Videos

A maker of police airborne surveillance cameras gives out annual awards for the best videos of pursuits and arrests. From a triple-digit motorcycle chase to a robber impersonating an alligator, this year’s entries show why you shouldn’t run.

The FLIR cameras are sold to law enforcement and military units around the world, and allow police to track suspects not just in visible light, but by their body heat visible in infrared wavelengths – allowing police to track perps even in pitch darkness.

Click through the videos to see the best-of-the-best and tell us which one you think is the ultimate airborne chase.

There wasn’t much technology needed for this chase in Seattle last September, when a sportbiker decided to test out his skills at triple-digit speeds. He wasn’t so much run down as simply out of fuel.

The FLIR systems have been available for several years, and even in their earliest incarnations began to give police an edge over suspects who take flight, like this carjacker in Washington, DC, who keeps running until eating some turf.

The infrared cameras let air patrols even uncover crimes on their own, like when two men are found stealing items from a car lot. By following the heat signatures, the air units can direct officers on the ground right to the suspects safely.

The more recent versions of FLIR infrared can switch contrast to highlight hot spots in either white or black, providing more resolution against the background for when a suspected drunken driver decides to hold a track meet in a suburban neighbourhood.

Keeping an eye on a chase gets more difficult when perpetrators split up – as they did during this 2008 chase, where some ran for the hills while others bailed from their first car to steal another. All were eventually arrested.

Criminals are always trying to stay one step ahead, and this stolen car suspect knew enough to seek out someplace he couldn’t be seen from the air – or so he thought.

While infrared cameras work well in cities, the winners of the FLIR awards often goes to law enforcement agencies dealing with amphibious suspects who use nature to mask their outline. This video from HIllsborough County near Tampa, Florida, comes from the pursuit of a robber suspected in several copper thefts who’s taken to the marshes of a lake in the middle of the night, submerging himself to resemble an alligator in an attempt to avoid a police dog and the helicopter. The results are in the video below.

That ain’t no alligator.

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