Google Streetview helps catch Dutch muggers

By Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Groningen police have used Google Streetview to solve the mugging of a 14-year-old boy, a police spokesperson said on Friday.

The boy's cellphone and 165 euros were stolen in September 2008 by two men on a street in the northern city.

In March the boy visited the Google Streetview website which shows panorama pictures taken by Google cameras at street level. Focusing on the scene of the robbery, he discovered that the Google pictures of the spot had been taken only moments before he was robbed. The boy contacted the police with his findings.

Since faces on the Google pictures are routinely blurred, Groningen police contacted the US headquarters of the company to obtain the originals of the pictures. A police detective recognised one of the 24-year-old perpetrators on the image, after which the second one, his twin, was easily identified.

The two men have admitted they are in the pictures, but deny that they mugged the boy. Meanwhile police have released one of them; the other is still in detention because of an unpaid fine for another offence.

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