Google Map Burglar Used Tech to Target Homes

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Sept. 28, 2011: Three men have already been arrested, but police say there may be more coming. Police are also working to recover the valuables stolen but believe much of it has already been sold on the street. (Published Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011)

    Google Maps have helped countless individuals navigate driving directions, locate restaurants and or even go for a run.

    One Chicago area criminal has been using the technology for more devious means.

    Indian Head Park police say Samuel A. Watson, 33, has been using the convenient mapping technology to scout and case homes in upscale suburban neighborhoods.

    Cops arrested Watson Friday at his South Side Chicago home, Friday, for his alleged role in a break-in in the Indian Head Park neighborhood.

    The owner of the burglarized home picked him out of a line-up, police said. That homeowner allegedly confronted Watson when the would-be thief pried open a rear door of his home.

    Now police say he Watson may have been involved in more than eight burglaries in the area.

    After he was picked out of the line up, police said he confessed to how he cased the homes.

    He would use Google Maps to select expensive homes along the highways and then turn on the satellite view and use the 360-degree view to get a better look.

    “He typed in Google ‘expensive homes that run along highway’ … then he used Google Earth to zoom in on the streets,” said Sgt. Curt Novak.

    Watson allegedly stole jewelry and other easily transported materials.

    An apparent accomplice, Claude L. White, 45, helped police track down Watson, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

    White was arrested during an alleged getaway from another theft. He was the passenger in an SUV that Watson was believed to be driving. The SUV crashed into a parked car and Watson allegedly fled on foot.

    Police called in a helicopter to find him, but their search came up empty at the time. Watson later told the police that he shed his clothes, crossed a river and hid in an unlocked van until the helicopter left.

    White later led police to Watson's home on the South Side.

    “It’s scary," Novak said. "We live in a different age.”