Police Tried To Disguise Surveillance Vehicle As “Google Maps” Truck

While Google’s Street View camera cars may have gotten less ridiculous-looking over the years, they are still pretty obvious when they roll down the streets, snapping photos in all directions for later use on Google’s Maps service. So it didn’t take long for savvy folks to sniff out something off about the alleged “Google Maps” truck recently spotted on the streets of Philadelphia.

The faux Google SUV, complete with police license plate, was spotted by U.Penn Professor Matt Blaze earlier this week, who posted a photo of the vehicle to Twitter:

Vice’s Motherboard subsequently confirmed with the Philly Police Department that officers had indeed gussied up the vehicle to disguise it as a Google camera car, but that these particular cops had done so without approval.

“We have been informed that this unmarked vehicle belongs to the police department,” reads the statement to Motherboard, “however, the placing of any particular decal on the vehicle was not approved through any chain of command. With that being said, once this was brought to our attention, it was ordered that the decals be removed immediately.”

The police say they are looking into this matter further, and Google confirmed it too is investigating the Philly PD’s unauthorized use of the Google logo on a surveillance truck.

If you’re going to try to dress up a surveillance van as a Google Street View vehicle, don’t try to be subtle about it. Wrap that entire sucker up in Google logos and have the camera sticking out of the roof like a big honkin’ electronic lollipop. Tech companies don’t go for subtlety.

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