Ottawa

Google Street View may help thieves

High-resolution, street-level images of Canadian cities put online by Google last week could become a valuable tool for burglars and thieves, a home security inspector warns.
Patrick Mates suggests thieves could go down the street using Street View looking for the most vulnerable houses. ((Google))
High-resolution, street-level images of Canadian cities put online by Google last week could become a valuable tool for burglars and thieves, warns a home security inspector.

"This is scary," said Patrick Mates as he looked at the detailed, 360-degree images available on Google Street View.

Mates has been trained by the Ottawa police to do free security audits for people who request them. He checks locks, windows, doors and lighting, then offers tips on how to make the house more secure. He is also a member of an Ottawa neighbourhood watch group.

He thinks Google Street View makes things too easy for burglars to see whether the house has sliding windows, for example, which are less secure than other kinds.

"They could choose a house to break into simply by sitting at their computer and going down the street and looking for the most vulnerable ones."

Police not concerned

Mates added that some thieves could use the tool during the day to check out a house before a nighttime break-in.

"This is scary," said Patrick Mates as he looked at the detailed, 360-degree images available on Google Street View. ((CBC))
Nevertheless, Google Street View isn't a concern for police right now, said Ottawa Police Const. J.P. Vincelette. As of Tuesday afternoon, police had not received any complaints from the public about the service, he added.

On the other hand, he thinks it could be used as a tool by police to scope out a property before sending officers there in cases such as hostage-takings.

Vincelette encouraged homeowners to have a look at their property and make a request to Google to have the image removed if they have concerns.

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