A nifty little crimebuster: At $39.95, it pays dividends for Pa. police


By John Shiffman
The Philadelphia Inquirer 
 
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — When three men were shot in a Southwest Philadelphia bar last month, reportedly in front of 20 people, police were met with a familiar response: Nobody saw anything.

So city detectives turned to a $39.95 tool that's helped them solve scores of shootings and at least a dozen homicides since late 2004, including the killings of a police officer and a 9-year-old boy.

The tool is a sophisticated computer mapping program developed by a local FBI agent, Bill Shute, who came up with the idea one weekend afternoon while watching a cable-TV documentary about the former East German secret police, the Stasi.

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