A man in police custody for attempting to rob an Indian Head Park, Illinois home confessed that he used Google Maps to find expensive suburban homes and survey their properties to plan his break-ins.
Samuel Watson, 33, was arrested Friday after a homeowner who confronted Watson during an attempted burglary identified him in a lineup, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He is a suspect in as many as eight burglaries in the Chicago suburbs of Indian Head Park and Burr Ridge over the last six months, police say.
Watson narrowly escaped arrest during an alleged getaway from another theft when his SUV crashed into a parked car in Burr Ridge, NBC Chicago reports. Watson fled on foot, leaving his apparent accomplice, Claude L. White, 45, who was arrested after a jewelry box reported missing was found in the car. White eventually led police to Watson's South Side home.
“He said he Googled ‘expensive homes along highways,’ and Indian Head Park and Burr Ridge came up,” Sgt. Curt Novak told the Sun-Times. “He used the satellite view on those homes where you can see 360 degrees.”
Google Maps' "street view" option allows users to zoom in to a street-level perspective, which enabled Watson to study homes from multiple angles.
Over $100,000 in electronics and jewelry was taken in the string of suburban robberies, which police say all happened between 8 and 10 p.m. in Burr Ridge and Indian Head Park, the Sun-Times reports.
Watson told police he had previously escaped capture when White was arrested by taking off his clothes, crossing a nearby creek and hiding in an unlocked van until the Cook County sheriff's department helicopter stopped circling overhead.