The case of the suspected caravan thief captured in a Google Street View image has taken a new turn with the arrest of a suspect
We first reported on the story in November 2011, when Derbyshire owners of a white Abbey Adventura stolen from their driveway the previous June stumbled across an image on Google Maps that may have shown the theft in action.
The Street View image showed (and still does) an unknown vehicle parked in the caravan owners’ driveway with an equally unknown man standing next to it. Here’s what we wrote:
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…
According to reports, Google did eventually relent to police requests for a copy of the original Street View image without a blurred number plate, but the vehicle turned out to have been sold in the man time.
There’s no further information about how the case progressed, but the news broke late last week that a 49-year old man from Coventry had been arrested and bailed over the theft, following a combined investigation by Derbyshire, West Midlands and Warwickshire police forces.