Thief Uses Google Earth To Nick Lead Roofs

In an incident which further sparked concerns over the misuse of Google Earth application for felonious purposes, a thief stole lead worth a whopping £100,000 from the roofs of the buildings, by using the application to get the detailed view of these listed buildings.

Tom Berge, a 27-year-old builder from Sutton, used the Google Earth application, which offers detailed aerial images of places across the globe, to search out various listed buildings, including churches, schools, and museums, that could be ransacked for lead.

Berge used the application to figure out lead roofs with their darker colours, and made £44,500 by selling around 44.6-tonnes of lead during his six months long spree, which started from September to February.

The roofs of Sutton High School for Girls, Croydon Parish Church, and Honeywood Museum in Carshalton were all looted. Berge is sentenced to eight months in jail, suspended for a couple of years, after he confessed involvement in as many as 30 offences.

The court was told that Berge, along with his accomplices, meticulously planned the thefts, as he went to site equipped with the necessary equipment, such as ladders and abseiling ropes, to plunder the roofs, and even stole a car to make a speedy escape.

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Our Comments

Aside from the fact that the judgement highlights the legal loopholes that exist in the current UK system, it also shows that thieves, like any professionals, can be resourceful. Google Earth is a tool and while the incident highlighted one wrong use, it has an overwhelmingly good aura with its pedagogical and didactic features.

Related Links

Thief Googled £100,000 lead roofs

(The Independent)

Googling for crime

(The Sun)

Sutton roofer who used Google Earth for lead theft escapes jail term

(Your Local Guardian)

Google Earth used by thief to pinpoint buildings with valuable lead roofs


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