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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Law enforcement says the SABLE helicopter is a very effective tool to track down suspects or missing persons. This morning, though, Wilmington Police called in SABLE after a vehicle was broken into.

Was that a good call?

Police called in SABLE to help search for the suspect after he ran into the woods nearby. The burglary happened in the parking lot of the Mill Creek Spartments off of South Kerr Ave.

Some feel calling in sable was unnecessary.

“A minor break-in? I think that’s a little excessive,” Jessie Sullivan of Wilmington said.

Wilmington Police say there is no level of crime needed in order to use SABLE. They say if a supervisor feels it is needed, they can call it in for assistance.

“Property crime is something that we take very seriously, and certainly someone breaking into a car to steal something is a felony,” WPD spokesman Det. Kevin Smith said.

But what about the cost?

“It’s not good for the cost, especially for minor incidents,” Sullivan said.

Det. Smith, though, says using SABLE does not use tax payer dollars.

“The SABLE budget in total is actually funded by federal dollars from drug seizure programs,” he said.

Despite the help from SABLE, investigators could not find Thursday morning’s suspect. Still smith says SABLE is very effective.

Last week officers used SABLE and its thermal imaging technology to find a 73-year-old man with dementia who had wandered off.

“SABLE was actually able to direct the deputies exactly to where the subject was in a heavy wooded area,” Det. Smith said.

Just one of many ways law enforcement uses this eye in the sky.

SABLE is a joint effort by Wilmington Police, the New Hanover and Pender County Sheriff’s Offices and Leland Police.

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