Chicago burglar used Google Maps to canvass wealthy suburban homes

J. Arthur Bloom Deputy Editor
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Home-invading criminals now have a computerized targeting system — and it’s the most popular website on Earth. Apparently Google chairman Eric Schmidt doesn’t have enough to worry about with antitrust accusations looming.

Samuel Watson, 33, admitted to police that he had an unlikely accomplice in a string of up to nine burglaries of wealthy suburban homes. The ringer? Google Maps.

“He said he Googled ‘expensive homes along highways,’ and Indian Head Park and Burr Ridge came up,” Sgt. Curt Novak of the Indian Head, Ill., Police Department told the Chicago Sun-Times. “He used the satellite view on those homes where you can see 360 degrees.”

Novak said Watson was charged after a resident of one of the burglarized houses identified the culprit in a police lineup. The homeowner was asleep when Watson entered through the back of the house; when he awoke to check on the situation, he ran smack into the burglar, who was on his way into the bedroom.

Watson is also suspected of being the driver of an SUV in an earlier burglary that went sour.

Claude L. White, 45, was a passenger in the SUV and was arrested at the scene with a jewelry box from the suburban Indian Head Park home. Watson admitted to police that he eluded capture by stripping down, crossing a creek and taking refuge in an unlocked van.

Novak says the string of robberies nabbed jewelry and other stolen goods worth about $100,000.

Tags : google maps
J. Arthur Bloom