Investigation Step #1: Google Suspect


Every journalist (and police officer, for that matter) should start their investigative work with a Google search. They may find it’s all they need.

You’ve probably read by now of the disappearance, reappearance and arrest of the former British prison officer John Darwin, who turned up at a police station this month saying he’d lost his memory after a kayak incident in 2002. Everyone was relieved, including his wife, who had apparently reconciled herself to his passing and moved to Panama a week earlier. But one person was skeptical: an unnamed woman who turned to Google, as this Guardian story by Matthew Weaver reports:

A single mother put police and journalists to shame in their attempts to unravel the mysterious reappearance of the canoeist John Darwin by using a simple Google search, it emerged yesterday.

The woman found the picture that apparently shows Darwin with his wife, Anne, in Panama City in July last year.

When confronted with the picture, which was published in the Daily Mirror yesterday, Anne Darwin is reported to have admitted: “Yes, that’s him. My sons will never forgive me.”

The photograph was available on a website of the firm Move to Panama. It was found by the anonymous woman after she tapped in the words “John, Anne and Panama” into Google. She forwarded the picture to Cleveland police and the Mirror. She said that when she sent the picture to detectives, she was told: “You’re joking.”

I believe she actually did a Google image search, which, at the time of writing, still throws up the same image as the number one result, although the actual image has been removed from the site.

Police and journalists should share the shame and blame for not doing some basic Google sleuthing.

Caught in the web | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited

The Bluetooth Gun

Bluetooth in the line of fire? New Scientist reports of a police gun invention that when fired will automatically send its position to fellow officers who can then, presumably, provide backup.

The idea is that when a police officer is holding his gun correctly — both hands on the weapon — he or she can’t easily reach for the radio. So inventor Kevin Sinha of Georgia, “has come up with a simple way around the problem and Motorola, which has made police radios for many years, has pitched in.” The invention involves a Bluetooth transmitter chip controlled by a sensor in the gun which detects when the firing pin is triggered. Whenever a shot is fired the gun sends out a signal to a GPS radio on the wearer’s belt which determines the wearer’s precise position and transmits a pre-recorded message along with the location.

An interesting use of Bluetooth (and GPS). Of course, knowing how hard it is to couple two Bluetooth devices, and their tendency to need “waking up” even if they are paired, I wouldn’t want to rely on it in hairy situations. Like being shot at, for example.

Where Is Technology When You Need It Part XIV

This has absolutely nothing to do with technology, except that surely there’s some technology to prevent this kind of outburst of law enforcement official mastication by members of the post-death personal care industry? From Reuters: Hearse driver arrested for biting policeman: 

BERLIN (Reuters) – A drunken hearse driver has been arrested in the western German town of Krefeld after biting a police officer taking him in for an alcohol test, police said on Monday.

Police had called for a hearse at a funeral home to transport a body to the cemetery.

“The hearse driver nearly fell over when he got out of the car. Then he had to hold onto everything he could find as he stumbled to the house,” said police spokesman Dietmar Greger.

Police decided to take the man to the station to test his blood alcohol level, but when they tried to get him out of their car he started a fight and bit an officer several times in the hand.

The man was confined to a cell until he sobered up and has been charged with civil disorder and drunk driving.


Taiwan ‘Phisher’ Arrested, May Not Be Kingpin, Beaten Up By Father

A Taiwanese teenager has been arrested for phishing, but don’t expect it to bring an end to the problem.

The China Post today reported that the 16-year old, surnamed Wu, who was studying at a south Taiwan junior college, has been charged with forgery and fraud. The paper says it’s Taiwan’s first phishing case: If convicted, he faces three to five years’ jail.

That said, it doesn’t sound like the guy is exactly the mastermind behind the Internet’s fastest growing crime: The paper quoted an officer as saying that all the boy wanted was “to appear smart. He studied a hacking manual and tried to show off his knowledge by ‘phishing’ a dozen (computer) users.” All he managed to phish were their addresses and information. The paper reported his family was not particularly proud of his alleged phishing activities:

His irate father, who knows nothing about hacking, berated and tried to beat up the boy, when arresting police officers confronted them. The youth begged for mercy, one police officer said. “He was scared to death, when he saw us,” the officer said, “and we had a hard time calming his father down.”