Search engines are a vital part of modern life, at least for people like us who have computers and are able to hook them up to that series of tubes I call "the Internet." The amount of information search engines provide is staggering. But any tool can be used for good or evil, as shown by Kevin Fitzpatrick’s use of a search engine for the relatively evil purpose of learning how to rob a bank in Norwich, Connecticut.
The Internet was heavily implicated in this scheme (although it denied any involvement when contacted for this story). Fitzpatrick seems to have used it first to meet a female "friend" who lived near the bank he planned to rob, and whose car he borrowed to carry out the robbery. According to the report, the two met on the Internet and had never met in person before Fitzpatrick showed up and asked to stay with her for a few days. Of course she said yes, because you can trust everyone you meet on the Internet enough to let them stay with you, and to borrow your car to go to the "casino."
That’s where Fitzpatrick said he had been when he came back with the woman’s car and a whole lot of cash. In fact, he had succeeded in robbing Liberty Bank, presumably using what he had learned on the Internet to do so. He then hung around with the woman for at least a while longer, which proved to be a mistake. The woman, who also used the Internet, saw a surveillance photo from the robbery on a newspaper’s website, and recognized her guest. When she checked the search history on her computer, she saw a post-Norwich-bank-robbery search for "Norwich bank robbery," which she felt confirmed her fears. Could have been an innocent search for information, maybe, except for that surveillance photo and the fact that police found numerous pre-Norwich-bank-robbery searches on the computer concerning robberies. Among them: "how not to rob a bank." Whatever he found with that search evidently didn’t cover the issue of not erasing your search history afterward.
The report did not identify the search engine that had entrapped Fitzpatrick by first tempting him to rob a bank, showing him how to do it and how not to do it, and then cynically apprehending him after he successfully used the information provided.
Link: AP via Yahoo! News