NEW JERSEY (WPIX) – A New Jersey man has been arrested for allegedly dropping chemical dye into residential and commercial pools via the use of a drone, police said.
Patrick Spina IV, 45, of Absecon, was charged with multiple counts of criminal mischief Friday in connection with several of the annoying, costly incidents, police said.
Police in the city of Absecon were first made aware of such incidents on Aug. 13, when a homeowner noticed a drone hovering over their yard, the Absecon Police Department said.
“To the homeowner’s dismay, a substance was dropped from the drone, turning the pool water an alarming shade of green,” the department wrote in a press release.
Police said several other incidents were reported at nearby pools, one of which involved a Quality Inn in Galloway Township. That particular incident caused damage to the pool’s concrete base, they said.
Sandra Woolstion, the general manager of the Quality Inn, told The New York Times that she alerted Galloway Township Police after the hotel’s pool water was dyed green back in late June. The same thing continued to happen a few times a month, until ramping up the frequency last week.
She estimated the cost of draining, cleaning and refilling the pool — as well as the revenue lost from customers who canceled their stays — to be in the tens of thousands. The pool will also need refinishing, she told the Times.
Authorities were ultimately able to identify a suspect after spotting the drone over the Quality Inn on Sept. 1. They followed it back to the location of Comfort Solutions Heating and Cooling, where the business’ owner — Patrick Spina IV — was arrested.
The motive for his actions? It’s possible it was all just a prank, an investigator told the Times.
Investigators added that the substance dropped from the drone was Sea Dye, a product intended to mark areas of the ocean to alert pilots or rescue operators of a specific location.
“The use of such a material in this context was not only illicit but also caused damage to the affected pools,” police wrote.