Most readers are probably familiar with Google StreetView. It’s a great investigative tool but has received negative attention in recent months due to privacy concerns. This week, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported that tech-savvy law enforcement professionals in MA were able to use StreetView as an investigatory tool in a kidnapping case. After receiving cell phone coordinates suggesting that the kidnapper might be in VA, investigators used Google StreetView, satellite view, and maps to give them a sense of the location and which buildings were nearby. Since the cell phone triangulation data they received couldn’t pinpoint a location, they had to make some assumptions about the subject’s whereabouts. But using these tools, they identified a nearby motel. Their hunch proved correct and the suspect was taken into custody and the 9 year old victim is back home.
Such tools can be a tremendous resource for investigators. In addition to Google, other companies offer similar tools. For example, Microsoft’s Live Maps “Bird’s Eye View” also provides great imagery.