BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Three Maryland men are facing charges, after a dangerous armed robbery. Police say they fled the scene but were caught because of high-tech thermal imaging.

As Christie Ileto explains, it’s a tool police are relying on across the state.

Spotted from the sky. Thermal imaging cameras catch three armed suspects hiding in the woods from Prince Georges County Police.

Officers swarmed the trio believed to be behind an armed robbery at a store this week.

The cameras help end the man hunt. Technology is being used by more and more police departments including here in central Maryland.

“Every time we lift off that camera turns on,” said Corporal Jeff Rager, a chopper pilot for the Anne Arundel County Police Department.

“When you get up in the air 8:06 we’re a force multiplier. We probably equal 30 people on the ground, and we can do what they do in an hour probably in 5 minutes,” he said.

Pilots can see as far as three miles using the camera that detects anything that gives off heat ranging to absolute zero temperature.

“You can change the settings to fit the application,” said Howard County Police chopper pilot Marc Carneal.

The decades old device was once used strictly by military. Firefighters use thermal imaging to see through smoke and search for missing people.

Like elderly dementia patient Richard Holcomb, who was lost in the woods.

And during three days of severe storms police used thermal imaging to find missing boaters in Middle River.

But it’s often used day-to-day by police to track criminals in the dark, minimizing risk to officers on the ground.

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