Victim spots 'robbers' following him on Google

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The Independent US

Dutch police have arrested twin brothers on suspicion of robbery after their alleged victim spotted a picture of them following him on Google's Street View map application.

Paul Heidanus, a police spokesman in the town of Groningen, said he believed it was the first time Street View images had been used in a Dutch criminal investigation.

A 14-year-old boy told police in September that he had been robbed of €165 (£140) and his mobile phone when two men had dragged him off his bicycle in Groningen, north-east of Amsterdam.

The boy called again in March after seeing an image of himself and two men that he believed were his attackers on Street View, police said.

Mr Heidanus said prosecutors sent a formal request to Google for the original photo because people's faces were blurred on Street View.

"You must tell Google clearly why you want them," Mr Heidanus said of the request. In this case, "the photo could provide an important contribution to solving a crime".

The company complied and a robbery squad detective immediately recognised one of the twins. Prosecutors will now decide whether to charge the suspects, whose identities were not made public.

Since it was launched in 2007, Street View has expanded to include more than 100 cities worldwide. But it has drawn complaints from individuals and institutions that have been photographed, including the Pentagon, which barred Google from photographing its military bases.

A Google spokesman could not be reached immediately for comment.