crimesider

Google's Cameras Catch Crooks, Say Cops

(Google Maps)
Google's Street View of the alleged thieves.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (CBS/AP) For good or evil, Google is watching.

Dutch police have arrested twin brothers on suspicion of robbery after their alleged victim spotted a picture of them following him on Google's Street View map application, a spokesman said Friday.

Paul Heidanus, a police spokesman in the town of Groningen, said he believed it was the first time Street View images had been used in a Dutch criminal investigation.

"For us, it is unique," he said.

A 14-year-old boy told police last September he had been robbed of €165 ($230) and his cell phone after two men dragged him off his bicycle in Groningen, 110 miles northeast of the capital, Amsterdam.

The victim called again in March after seeing an image of himself and two men he believed were his attackers on Street View, police said in a statement.

Heidanus said prosecutors sent a formal request to Google for the original photo because people's faces are blurred on Street View.

"You must tell Google clearly why you want them," Heidanus said of the photo request. In this case, "the photo could provide an important contribution to solving a crime."

The company complied, and a robbery squad detective immediately recognized one of the twins.

Prosecutors will now decide whether to charge the suspects, whose identities were not released.

Since it was launched in 2007, Street View has expanded to more than 100 cities worldwide. But it has drawn complaints from individuals and institutions that have been photographed, including the Pentagon, which barred Google from photographing U.S. military bases for the application.

A spokesman for Google in the Netherlands did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

  • Edecio Martinez

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