Have you ever seen the Google Earth van go by? It's a large vehicle, usually with a ton of camera equipment strapped to the top of the roof, and very obvious to see coming.
Over the past decade, Google has sent out hundreds of these teams to take pictures of over 5 million miles of roadway in over 39 countries. Their maps are the most up-to-date and offer an intimate view for anyone looking through to see exactly where they are going.
This means that they end up capturing much more than just road signs as they make their way through neighborhoods.
Unfortunately for these criminals, Google Earth was there to take their picture, and it wasn't their best side!
This picture led police to the right suspect in a stolen bike case. Not the only law he was breaking either; where's your helmet?!
When the Google Earth satellite flew over top of this forest in Oregon, officials noticed something strange about the way these trees were lined up. They tracked the farm down to someone with a licence to grow 30 plants, but was definitely over-producing.
Illegal Pool Parties
When Greece was cracking down on tax evaders, they matched addresses with aerial shots of neighborhoods of suspects. Quite a few people said they didn't have a pool, and yet, a blue rectangle was found in their backyards...
A land-owner curious about his property was looking at Google Earth to survey the area one day, when he thought he spied an illegal hunting cabin on his land.
When he investigated he found an SUV, and when the police showed up, he was surprised to find he had just located a stolen car!
A trailer home was stolen out of a driveway in the UK several years ago with no leads, until Google Earth offered this image of an unknown man on the property of the victims. Two years later, it led to his arrest and the recovery of the stolen caravan.
The maps service has led to the solving of much worse crimes than this, and it's hard to believe that some of these culprits didn't see it coming!