Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Google Saved a Kidnapped Victim

Manor Road
If there's one thing that the public should be thankful about Google is that it is useful in saving a person from dire situation as exemplified by Belgian businessman Sander Cokelaere.

As The Independent reports, Cokelaere was kidnapped recently by a British man named John Clarke Spence, who held Cokelaere for ransom and demanded tens of thousands of pounds from his boss in exchange for his release. What Spence didn’t count on, however, was the power of Google in Cokelaere’s pocket.

Spence, 51, hatched the 'dreadful' plot because he felt Cokelaere's company (SMET UK Ltd.) owed him £2,000. He used a false name and bogus email address to contact SMET posing as a customer wanting to make an £18,000 purchase.

The Belgian-based staircase manufacturer sent representative Cokelaere to meet Spence in Manor Road, Oadby, Leicestershire, on 30 June this year.

Spence, 51, who was disguised in a brown curly wig, a hat and sunglasses, posed as a builder using a second false name and said he would drive him to other clients. But he then threatened Cokelaere with a gun and took the businessman to a remote woodland spot where he chained him to a tree using a padlock.

A court heard Spence took the victim's bank card and demanded the PIN number before leaving to withdraw £500 from a cashpoint.

It turns out Cokelaere had cleverly stashed his smartphone away in his sock where Spence never looked for it. Without Spence’s knowledge, he was able to Google his whereabouts and then send a photo of his location to his boss, who promptly alerted authorities. What’s even more impressive is that Cokelaere was able to perform this feat while he was chained to a tree.

The kidnapping victim was subsequently rescued while Spence this week was sentenced to eight years in prison. At the very least, this story shows that Google’s original motto of “don’t be evil” has some merit in cases where the evildoers aren’t aware of the technologies their would-be victims have at their disposal.

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