Motorhome and caravan security is a perennial problem and few anti-theft measures will deter a determined thief. That certainly seems to be the case for one Derbyshire family, whose wheel-clamped van was stolen from their drive in June last year.

Forensic examination of the damaged clamps apparently gave no clue to the thief’s identity and so the owners no doubt gave up hope of ever recovering their van.

In March this year, however, they happened to be looking up their address in Google Maps and switched to Street View to see a picture of their house (we’ve all done it). Unbelievably, the image contained what is thought to be the caravan thief in action — complete with his car parked on the driveway.

It’s believed that Google’s Street View camera car was passing just as the theft was taking place and Derbyshire police are now appealing to the public to help identify the person snapped in the Street View image.

The man may not be the thief, of course  — he may have just parked on the driveway to safely exit his vehicle and re-adjust his trousers, judging by the image… The police would, no doubt, at least like to establish the man’s identity in order to rule him out of their investigation.

Unfortunately, Google blurs car registration plates before published Street View images, which means that the vehicle also captured in the Street View image can’t be readily identified.

Investigating officer, PC Adrian Mason, said: “I’ve made extensive inquiries since the image was discovered but because the registration plate of the 4×4 is blanked out we have been unable to trace the man through his car. That is why we are appealing for the public’s help.”

However, the police appear to be unaware that Google retains the unblurred original Street View images for up to 12 months after they were taken, which means there’s a likelihood that the car registration plate can still be identified. Let’s hope they get in touch with Google UK about the original image sooner rather than later…

If you recognise the person in the image, or have any other information about the theft of a white Abbey Adventura caravan from Cauldwell Road, Linton, Derbyshire between 0930 BST and 1400 BST on 5 June, please contact the Derbyshire Constabulary.

[via BBC News]