Brooklyn Drug Dealers Arrested After Being Photographed on Google Street View
The Daily Mail via YellowBrix
November 12, 2010
BROOKLYN – A gang of alleged drug dealers have been caught after they were photographed at work by the Google Street View car.
The gang were selling heroin and marijuana outside a grocery store in Brooklyn, New York, when the Google driver went past and inadvertently took their picture.
The street corner where they worked was then put under surveillance and after watching them ply their trade police have now made six arrests.
All have been indicted on multiple counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance, whilst a seventh is due to later appear at Manhattan’s Criminal Court.
Police began their operation after residents complained that their neighbourhood had been turned into an open-air drugs market by the gang.
The situation was so bad that one grocery store owner closed his shop between 7am and 11am because ‘it was serving as a sanctuary for drug dealers.’
‘If you look at the neighbourhood, there are a lot of drugs,’ said Jose Inez said. ‘You don’t want your kids to walk around a neighbourhood with drugs.’
Multiple pictures from Google’s Street View car, which uses a 360-degree camera to record images for the interactive service, captured the men loitering around and afterwards the police began their surveillance operation.
On a video taken by undercover officers using handheld cameras, the men were seen putting heroin into a magnetic box which was hidden in front of the Neighbourhood Grocery store without the owner’s knowledge.
Officers made 20 drug purchases inside and outside the store including $10 bags of heroin with brand names lie ‘KFC’ and ‘Fed Ex’.
When one of the dealers was arrested, police found a stash of 20 glass vials of heroin in his basement along with marijuana and a packaging lab which contained scales and envelopes.
It is believed to be the first time in the U.S. that Street View has helped solve a crime, but in the UK the service has been involved in one investigation already.
Police issued an appeal after an intruder was photographed by the Google car at a home in Linton, near Swadlincote, Derbyshire, moments before the family’s caravan was stolen.
The balding stocky man on the image was recorded on the driveway of the Soanes family home, with a green 4×4 that police suspect was used to tow away their £12,000 caravan.
In an effort to solve the riddle, police released the picture taken by the Google car and asked the public to contact them if they knew any information.
Despite its latest success, Google’s Street View has not always been so well received and has been described by critics as a ‘burglars’ charter’ which allows criminals to eye up targets from their armchairs.
Google Earth, a different service which shows aerial photographs of towns from satellites, has been blamed for a number of cases in which thieves stole lead from historic buildings.