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Man looking at Google Earth inadvertently helps sheriff's department find stolen car

Published: Friday, Sept. 27 2013 3:40 p.m. MDT

A man found a missing SUV in hunting grounds next to property he owned using Google Earth. (George County Sheriff's Department) A man found a missing SUV in hunting grounds next to property he owned using Google Earth. (George County Sheriff's Department)

Sometimes surfing on Google Maps can have a productive outcome.

A man in Mississippi, who prefers to remain anonymous, inadvertently helped his local sheriff's department find a stolen SUV that was reported missing in March with the help of the virtual mapping system.

The man was using Google Maps to look at his property and adjacent land he hunted on when he noticed a dark blur that looked like an illegal hunting structure.

The man and his son decided to check out the dark blur. Using the coordinates on his GPS, they were able to identify the blur as a GMC Yukon SUV.

Public information officer Shonna Pierce of the George Country Sheriff's Office told Yahoo News that the SUV was so well-hidden under the brush that the man and his son were 10 feet away before they realized they were looking at a vehicle.

A man found a missing SUV in hunting grounds next to property he owned using Google Earth. (George County Sheriff's Department) A man found a missing SUV in hunting grounds next to property he owned using Google Earth. (George County Sheriff's Department)

The man then met with the Sheriff's Department of George County to investigate the mysterious SUV further. The department ran the license plate number and confirmed it was an SUV that was reported stolen in March. A woman was arrested in connection with the stolen vehicle with the help of two eyewitness accounts, but detectives were not able to recover the SUV.

"Now that we have the truck, we can pursue the prosecution," detective Lt. Ben Brown told ABC News.

Initially released June 11, 2001, Google Earth was first known as Earth Viewer before the company that launched it, Keyhole Inc., was acquired by Google in 2004. It had its name changed from Earth Viewer to Google Maps in 2005.

Google Maps allows users to browse the Earth, which allows users to get a bird's-eye view of things, such as the sunken ship S.S. Jassim, Iraq's blood-red lake, and the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base outside Tucson, Ariz., also known as the airplane graveyard, which is home to more than 4,000 retired military aircrafts.

In 2009, the virtual map also helped police in Switzerland stumble upon a large marijuana plantation, which lead to the arrest of 16 people and seizure of 1.2 tons of marijuana as well as cash and valuables worth 900,000 Swiss francs, which is about $780,000.

Email: crenouard@deseretnews.com

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