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Robbery suspects spotted on Street View

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, a spokesman said yesterday.

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

"For us, it is unique," he said.

A 14-year-old boy told police last September he had been robbed of 165 euros (US$230) and his cell phone after two men dragged him off his bicycle in Groningen, 180 kilometers northeast of the capital, Amsterdam.

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

Eidanus said police asked Google for the original photo because people's faces are blurred on Street View.

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

Google complied, and a detective immediately recognized one of the twins.

Prosecutors will now decide whether to charge the suspects.

Street View has expanded to more than 100 cities worldwide since its launch. But it has drawn complaints from individuals and institutions concerning about privacy.


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