Here's one excuse to goof off on the Web while at work: A Mississippi man found a stolen SUV while browsing photos of his land on Google Earth.
A spokeswoman for the George County sheriff in southern Mississippi laid out the odd tale in a phone interview with the Los Angeles Times.
"On Monday morning, a local resident came in and said, 'You know, this weekend I was at work, working the night shift, and I decided to check out my hunting land,'" spokeswoman Shonna Pierce said Thursday.
From Google's images, the man spotted what he thought was an illegal hunting shack on his property -- a small blind a hunter could sit in to wait for deer to come by. "A co-worker says, 'No, man, that’s a vehicle!'" Pierce said.
The man and his son then walked the property with a GPS, trying to find the coordinates of the image by matching them up with Google's coordinates -- at which point they discovered the vehicle, Pierce said.
"It turns out to be this stolen SUV that we’ve been looking for since March," Pierce said. "They were within 10 feet of this vehicle and couldn’t even see it. ... Trees were growing out from under it, under the sides of the truck.”
The brush was so thick that officials had to pull out the GMC Yukon with the help of a bulldozer. Pierce speculated that the vehicle had been ditched promptly after it had been stolen.
"The people who stole it obviously knew that day they were going to get caught," Pierce said. "So they spotted an old pig trail, they pulled the vehicle down in there, ditched it, and ran."
The SUV has been returned to its astonished owner, and officials are hoping to make an arrest soon, Pierce said.
That is not the only slightly weird thing to happen in George County this year. Pierce reported that several months ago, burglars broke into a local home, stole a monkey, and sent photos of the animal to its owner with a ransom demand. The monkey-nappers were arrested, she said, and the monkey was safely returned home.