The Abbotsford Police Department has a new tool to help them fight crime that’s helping them see no matter the conditions or time of day.

Its remotely piloted aircraft system – better known as a drone – has an infrared thermal camera attached, allowing officers to detect people using their body heat.

“Someone standing in the middle of the tree, with a regular camera, I might not be able to see them on the screen. But if I put on the FLIR (forward-looking infrared), I’d be able to see them right away,” Const. Robert Hryhorczuk said.

The Abbotsford Police Foundation fundraised to purchase the $32,000 equipment, allowing the force to be one of the first in the Lower Mainland to have the technology.

Hryhorczuk said the drone has already been used in a variety of situations and investigations.

“Just the other night, I got called at one in the morning because people are learning it can be a helpful tool,” he said.

The drone has already been used to help other local agencies.

“We get some cold nights out here and if it's cold and wet, and they're out there, this will just speed up that process up for us,” said Jerry Haak with Central Fraser Valley Search and Rescue.

When each second is precious, the drone is able to get to hard-to-reach places and help find those who may be trapped.

“The longer someone is gone, the harder it is for us to find them,” Haak explained.

The drone has proven so useful, Abbotsford police have recently trained three more officers to use it, giving them another skill to help save lives.