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Milkman skewers Google Street View over garage break-in

'Online shopping for crooks'

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A UK-based milkman and former football manager has questioned whether Google Street View played a role in a series of attempted burglaries on his home - one successful - after Google's virtual window onto the world's very real streets exposed a photo of his wide open garage.

Gordon Rayner, 54, suspects that burglars may have used Street View to target the contents of his garage, which are clearly visible in the photo snapped by one of Google's roving camera cars as it rode through the streets of Bradford. "People need to be aware of this: it's a serious invasion of privacy," Rayner tells The Reg. "It's basically shopping online for these crooks."

Rayner - the former manager of the Bradford Park Avenue and Guiseley football clubs - is also pictured in the pan-and-zoomable photo, and he remembers Google's Orwellian Opel driving past as he was pressure-washing his driveway. In the photo, Google has blurred out his face - and his car's licence plate - but not the open garage.

On Friday, March 12, Rayner says, burglars broke into the garage and made off with a £350 bicycle, then made two unsuccessful attempts at another break-in that Saturday and Sunday. The West Yorkshire police are investigating the matter, but Rayner tells us he's also pondering legal action against Google.

Google works to proactively blur faces and license plates in Street View photos, and you can ask the company to remove any picture that features you, your family, your car, or your home. "We do remove homes when requested, and always have," a company spokesman tells The Reg. Each Street View pic includes a "report a problem" link for requesting removals.

But Rayner was unaware of this when he spoke to him. In fact, he was unaware that he and his home were pictured on Street View until his neighbour's son pointed out the photo in the wake of the burglary. A Google spokesman told the Bradford Telegraph and Argus: “The imagery on Street View is no different to what anyone could readily capture or see by travelling down the street themselves.

“We’ve now launched Street View in around 20 countries and nowhere has there been any increase in crime as a result.” ®

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