GOOGLE Maps Street View has many uses, from checking out the locale of a property you are interested in, to having a nosey to see what life is like on the other side of the world. Oh, it can also catch Mafia gunmen who have been on the run for 20 years.


Probably not what it was intended to do?

Google Maps Street View launched in 2007 in the US and has since expanded worldwide, allowing web users to input an address and find a map or an interactive photograph from various positions along streets across the world. It can even provide a satellite image via Google Earth, designed to bring a world view within easier reach.


It is indeed far reaching?

Within 10 years of launching, Google's Street View cars - which you may have seen tootling along with a giant camera on top - have driven more than 10 million kilometres in more than 70 countries, capturing scenes in urban and rural areas. The same camera system has also been mounted on tricycles, snow machines, boats, dog sleds and even camel's backs to allow images from around the world that are later overlapped and stitched together into 360 degree views.


And you normally can’t see faces?

To protect people’s privacy, Google has implemented technology that blurs people’s faces, so if you have input your own address and found you are in the shot, cutting the hedge or cleaning the windows - or more likely just staring at the giant camera - your face won’t be visible.



The invention has turned detective, as it has emerged that Sicilian mafia fugitive, Gioacchino Gammino, now 61, was spotted on Google Street View. Despite a blurred face, he was recognised chatting to another man outside a fruit shop in Galapagar, a small town near Madrid in Spain.


Who is he?

The convicted murderer - listed among Italy's most wanted gangsters - was jailed for life after his involvement in a fatal shooting in 1989. He was at the very least, a high ranking member of the Stidda mafia group, often rivals with the better-known Cosa Nostra mafia. He escaped prison in Rome in 2002 and went on the run, cutting ties with his homeland.


How did he get spotted online?

Investigators have not revealed exactly how they traced him to Spain, but seemingly an exhaustive search found him at the fruit shop. He was living under the name, Manuel, and a Facebook photo for the restaurant he had worked at as a chef, called La Cocina de Manu (Manu’s Kitchen), revealed a clear photo of him, featuring his scar on the left side of his chin. If any more clues were required, the restaurant - now closed - also offered a ‘Sicilian dinner’.


What did he say when he was caught?

After his December arrest, Gammino - currently in custody in Spain, with plans afoot to return him to Italy - reportedly said to police: "How did you find me? I haven't phoned my family for 10 years.” General Nicola Altiero, deputy director of Italy's Antimafia Investigation Department, said: "They say that fortune favours the bold."