Stunning crimes solved by Google Earth

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William Moldt's decomposing remains were tied to the driver's seat of his submerged car after he drove in a pond for 22 years.

No one noticed the vehicle beneath the surface of the Florida waters until, by chance, it was spotted on Google Earth – the latest in a surprising list of crimes solved by the digital map service.

Secret pharmacies and even the murder of two women and two children came to light thanks to the site.

Here are some of the most stunning examples of crimes solved by Google Earth.

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BRUTAL EXECUTIONS

In 2018, a horrible video began circulating on social media showing two women and two children led by armed men somewhere.

Women and children are blindfolded, forced to the ground and shot 22 times.

While it was initially claimed that Cameroonian soldiers were the cause of the barbaric massacre, the government rejected the accusations as "false news".

But using Google Earth, investigators were able to demonstrate where and when the murders occurred by comparing geographic features such as buildings and trees in the video with satellite images.

From those revelations, they were eventually able to identify the soldiers involved and to exert pressure on the government to pursue the massacre.

Seven soldiers will be tried on September 16th.

MISSING FOR NINE YEARS

The discovery of William Moldt's skeletal remains at the beginning of this week echoes another eerie mysterious case that began in 2006.

David Lee Niles, a 72-year-old father with cancer and depression, disappeared one night in Michigan after leaving his local pub.

For almost a decade, no one had any idea what had happened to David, with his broken family who gave up hope of finding answers.

But his last resting place has been clear on Google Earth for years.

In 2015, Brian Houseman was decorating a large Christmas tree using a cherry picker when he saw something lurking in the waters of a pond on the other side of the street.

A check on Google Earth showed the car in the water: the cops recovered and identified the remains inside as David from his wallet.

At the time, his father-in-law Scott Hathaway said: "For us today is the closure of a long search.

"Because God has waited nine years, I have no idea, but we are happy. It is good to have him at home."

CANNABIS HIDDEN AGRICULTURAL COMPANY

The underwater cars are not the only thing you can see with a satellite view of the terrain.

You may not associate Switzerland, famous for its snow-capped mountains and alpine skiing, with huge cannabis farms.

But that's exactly what the Swiss cops discovered hiding in the middle of a wheat field in 2009.

The huge plantation of weeds, which was spotted on Google Earth, led to the arrest of 16 people and the seizure of a ton of marijuana.

Prosecutors said the site was run by a criminal drug group that moved tons of narcotics worth millions.

But as admitted at the time, the head of the Zurich-based police unit Norbert Klossner, discovered that the cannabis farm on Google Earth was "an interesting casual discovery".

DOPE EROINA

And it's not just the cannabis trade that Google Earth took by surprise.

In 2010, three heroin pushers were caught taking drugs at a street in Brooklyn, New York, when a Google Street View car passed.

Shaundell Dade, Jamel Pringle and Jonathan Paulino were all shot in front of a well-known commercial site.

One of the corners shows even the types screaming at cartography.

They were reunited with four others in an undercover NYPD puncture operation shortly thereafter.

TURNS INTO THE LIGHT OF THE SUN

Even the criminals who commit their crimes have been captured by Street View patrol cars.

In 2011, a woman's home was hit by two armed thieves who kept her on fire while plundering her home in Oklahoma City.

The victim, who was so traumatized that she didn't want to reveal her identity, said that the ordeal lasted longer than an hour and she thought she would die.

It was devastated when an initial police investigation revealed no forensic evidence or other clues.

Then, in a remarkable turnaround in 2014, one of his friends looked for the victim's house on Google Street View and there were two men who corresponded to the thief's description outside the house.

The police immediately appealed for information in the otherwise cold stone case.

THEFT

Although the Oklahoma resident had to wait years to get justice from Google Earth, in a few months a famous robbery case was resolved.

In 2008, a 14-year-old boy was riding in Groningen, the Netherlands, when two men ambushed him, cutting off his bike, phone and money.

Cops initially couldn't help the victim – until he made a surprising discovery six months later.

Looking at the point of his kidnapping on Street View, the boy discovered that the cartography had captured the moments just before his attachment.

He immediately called the authorities who contacted Google, asking them to show off the faces of the robbers.

The technology giant forced and the cops immediately recognized the attackers as two 24-year-old brothers who were well known to the Dutch judicial system.

SECRET POOLS

In addition to individual crimes, Google Earth was used to discover widespread offenses.

In the Greek capital Athens, you must have a special permit to build a pool on your property.

The authorities knew that there were 324 pools on the outskirts of Athens – which seemed to be a low number.

So the government's financial crime investigators have begun to examine the issue with Google Earth.

And in a few months, they found over 16,500 undeclared pools in the homes of tax evaders.

The hunt for secret bathroom owners and their charge for unpaid taxes have become a completely new source of money for the Greek government during the crackdown on fraud.

TAX DODGING ON EPIC SCALE

The tax office in Greece is not the only one that has used pools to make people boom.

A guy in Italy told the authorities he sold his villa for 280,000 euros.

But when they searched for him on Google Earth and saw the area he was in and the size of the house, they knew something had happened.

They knew they had the right place due to the characteristic phallic-shaped pool on the villa's grounds.

Eventually it turned out that the selling price was so high that the fraudster owed more than seven million euros to the tax authorities.

"AN INCREDIBLE COINCIDENCE"

An illicit villa will obviously be visible on Google Earth for a long time – for other criminals, they have been captured for being in the wrong place at exactly the wrong time.

When David Soanes' £ 12,000 car was torn from his driving, he couldn't believe how unlucky he was.

He had bought his second trailer after his first one had been destroyed by a knight of joy.

But his case became famous thanks to an incredible stroke of luck.

David's eleven-year-old son Reuben searched for their family home on Google Street View and, to their surprise, the map car was passing in front of them while the thief was stealing the trailer.

The cops think the cheeky culprit was just minutes away from the caravan when Google's cartography passed.

In the end, the police convinced Google to reveal the suspect's license plate and arrested two years after the crime.

PC Adrian Mason said at the time: "It is incredible to have such a clear image of man.

"It was a surprising coincidence that Google's car happened to pass by."

ILLUSION OF MURDER

In addition to solving the mysteries, Google Earth has also created some.

Perhaps no one is more disturbing than what looked like a bloody satellite-captured murder.

In 2013, a user of Reddit noticed a trail of blood that extended along a pier on the water in a park in Almere, Holland.

Sharing the discovery, the original poster wrote: "A murder near my house on Google Maps, link in the comments".

At the end of the pier, a man's profile can be distinguished on a dark object surrounded by a pool of blood.

But despite the initial panic, Internet users eventually realized that what the picture actually showed was a man with a wet dog.

The dark "trail of blood" along the pier was just water that had trickled from the dog's body after he had enjoyed a dive in the park's pond.

This article originally appeared on The sun and has been reproduced with permission

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