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The following is the actual The Vancouver Sun article about this website:
David Ruppel, creator of a voyeuristic website offering aerial views of American celebrities homes, has come under a critical glare after California police found that a gang of Hollywood burglars had used the Toronto-based databank to plan their crimes. But Ruppel says his website, run out of his Toronto home, is an enterprising use of publicly available real estate records and online images on Nov. 12, 2009. Photograph by: Sarah Dea, Canwest News Service
A Canadian man's voyeuristic website offering aerial views of celebrities' homes is under attack after California police found that a gang of Hollywood burglars who targeted the residences of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and other rich-and-famous had used the Toronto-based databank to plan its crimes. But in an interview with Canwest News Service, the man behind the controversial cyber-guide to the mansions of Tinseltown's glitterati has defended his website as an enterprising use of publicly available real estate records and online images. "All of the information I provide there is public information," said David Ruppel. "There's always that thought in your mind — that it could be used for (criminal purposes). But I have no control over what people do with it, and it's not meant to be used for that." The Los Angeles Times reported this week that warrants filed in a case against a group of thieves known in media circles as the "Bling Ring," for its multimillion-thefts of jewelry from the residences of Hilton, Lohan and other celebrities, allege six young adults arrested by Las Vegas and Los Angeles police had visited Ruppel's website to determine how best to gain entry to celebrity homes. Designer clothing, jewelry and other items worth an estimated $3 million were stolen from Hilton and at least nine other celebrities in the past year, including actors Lohan, Orlando Bloom and Ashley Tisdale. The suspects, mostly between the ages of 18 and 20, were charged with a host of burglary-related offences after one of the accused, Nicholas Frank Prugo, confessed to organizing the crimes with a group of young women who knew each other from a Los Angeles high school. Ruppel has spent years compiling data about hundreds of properties owned by Hollywood stars, professional athletes and other high-profile figures in business and politics. He said the address information comes mainly from property assessment records posted online through U.S. county clerks' offices. The pictures, mostly taken from satellite images or "bird's-eye" views in aerial photograph libraries, are linked to Ruppel's website via Microsoft's public search engine www.bing.com. In January 2008, he launched a free-access version of his website — www.celebrityaddressaerial.com — before converting it to a $9.99-a-month subscription-based service earlier this year. The website states that subscribers will get the chance to "see behind the tall hedges, big gates and security systems" of Hollywood homes and to gain "unprecedented access to the sort of lifestyle your favourite celebrity can afford." Ruppel says he's simply offering a high-tech version of the "star maps" that have been available for Hollywood tourists since the days of silent film. "I've had an interest in celebrity homes for a long time. And when your interest is in line with a lot of other people's interest, that makes it a viable business idea," said Ruppel. But the Canadian's website has ignited a debate in the U.S. over whether such virtual snooping around celebrities' homes has gone too far in an era when the lines between probing paparazzi, obsessed fans and criminal stalkers are frequently blurred. U.S. privacy law expert Neville Johnson told the Times that Ruppel's website amounted to "a how-to handbook for stalkers and burglars," arguing that the easy-to-obtain aerial photos of celebrities' homes takes invasion of privacy to "a whole new level." He added: "It's bad, it's immoral and, for right now, probably legal." Los Angeles Police Department investigator Pat Gannon was quoted saying he's not sure if authorities can "put limits on it," but that the detailed pictures and property information available via Ruppel's website are "really frightening for a lot of people." Ruppel said security or legal representatives of three celebrities — Drew Barrymore, actor Tom Hanks and talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel — had contacted him to demand that the photos of their homes be removed from the website.
Ruppel complied while the website offered free access but has made those images available again to paid subscribers. "Of course there's going to be privacy concerns," he said, acknowledging some burglary fears were expressed after Google's recent launch of its wildly popular "street view" image bank. "But it's legal and it's out there. It's not my issue, per se. Pick on Microsoft. Pick on Google." Ruppel noted that he's "not much of a businessman" and hasn't yet consulted marketing experts to help him seriously cash in on North Americans' obsession with celebrity lifestyles. But he counts various celebrity news outlets among his customers, and noted a "dramatic spike" in business after this week's L.A. Times coverage of the website — despite the criticisms voiced in the articles. Ruppel does acknowledge some concern that publicity about his site might lead to legal challenges from the U.S., but he's confident he's operating within the law. "It's interesting to see how it's going to play out," he said, adding that he feels protected partly because "I'm across the border . . . How are they going to get to me?" © Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
Hello. I just stumbled on your site and the information is great. (Tom H.)
Thanks a million for your site. It is very helpful in contacting several people I have been trying to reach for grants. (Kenneth C.)
Read Full Testimonial and Review Here... (Craig Ferguson)
Mark Geragos learned Monday that his home is on the list, as well as those of some of his clients. "I have some big dogs on my property," he said jokingly.
I just found your site, and think its fantastic! Thanks for all the great work! (Dane)
I was looking through your celebrity listings, and I realize that you have done a great job putting as many as you can all in one place. (T Collins)
Thanks for all your help (Belinda)
You have a great website! Keep up the good work! (Sam)
I have recently came to your site earlier in the day and and I'm practically amazed at this - you did a good job. (Erik)
I just discovered your website and love it. (Gary)
You have by far the best site like this I’ve ever seen. Thanks for putting this info together. (Matt)
Love your site! Its so much fun ... (Sandy)
You are a genius! The volume and accuracy of your website is the best I've ever seen. (John)
I just wanted to send an email and saw wow! what a great website you have. Since I live all the way in Florida all I have
to do is look at your website to see a map of homes from all my favorite celebrities. (Charlene)
Love your website! (Kayli)
Love your site! (Russ)
AWESOME site!!!! My friend and I found it before a recent girls trip to Los Angeles (LA), and it proved to be PRICELESS!!
We did organize our own home tour, and couldn't have done it without your info. … Thanks
for all the hard work on your site.
Oh my gosh! you have a really cool website. I was looking through your website and it is really fun. (Hazel)
… love the website, keep up the great work! (Rob)
I really like your site, the database of home address information you have compiled is amazing. (Roland)
I would first like to thank you for posting this information into a very well-organized, easy to use site. It has been
a blast viewing the homes of the celebrities we see and hear about on a daily basis. (Joshua)
I AM A HUGE FAN OF YOUR WEB SITE (John)
Your site is awesome. (Maria)
... your site rocks. I love it. … Keep up the great site! (Ana)
Well done! Cool website, really! Congratulations!
Thanks for the site and all your hard work! I could spend all day on your site. (Lola)
I want to first thank you – as you have probably saved me a few hundred dollars in planning my L.A. trip.
You gave me the ability to create my own (and much more reliable) stars’ home maps.
Have loved, loved, loved reading your celebrity website ... I appreciate all your hard work.
I love this site its fun looking up where all the stars live ... Thanks again keep up the good work.
I love your site! Idon't know how you do it but you are BY FAR the most accurate resource that I have found.
I have access to the Los Angeles county public records database and I can cross-check what you post and the
public record and you're always right. Great job!
Wow! You are amazing! Thanks for the info! (Susette)
As a member I have used your addresses to obtain many autographs, so I thank you very much.
This is an awesome website - thank you:)
Thank you for all you do, you are amazing!
I commend you for creating such an extensive and updated database.
Thanks for all the celebrity information that is on the website. I think it is cool.
I just want to say I love your site, it's great! Thanks!
I am a member and want to tell you how great your site is. Because of your site I have received some of my best and most sought after celebrity autographs.
I love your site and your customer service is always the best!!
You guys have a great service/website, very entertaining,Thank you.
I have enjoyed using your website. I would definitely recommend it to any of my actor friends.
Keep up the good work. I enjoy being a member of your site.
I commend you on the great culmination of addresses, but more importantly, the professionalism in which it is comprised.
I love your site and use it as a resource for my work. I'm a professional tour guide in Los Angeles!
Los Angeles is home to some of the most famous celebrities like Las Vegas, and expensive real estate. I could not believe how amazing the homes were up close! (Jacob)