Fingerprints, despite Nitrile Gloves
Dusting for fingerprints is a common activity for a wide range of hobbyists and professionals, ranging from kids with sleuth kits from under the Christmas tree to real life crime solvers.
Since the late 1800’s, lingering fingerprints have been the forefront forensic nemesis of intruders, burglars and murderers.
The uniqueness of fingerprints as a reliable means to identify individuals was recognized as early as ancient Babylonian civilization, when imprints were used to seal business transactions on clay tablets.
But it wasn’t until 1888 that criminal detection methods were radically altered when the Englishman Sir Francis Galton published a classification system in his book “Fingerprints”.
Galton calculated the odds of finding two people with identical fingerprints as being 1 in 64 billion.
Since then, criminals have invested thought and energy in how to successfully foil the detective’s brush and powder.
Latex gloves, nitrile gloves, synthetic gloves, they have all been used by malicious perpetrators with varying degrees of success.
Today, it is not at all uncommon to find discarded Nitrile gloves at the
edge of a crime scene.
Black nitrile gloves seem to have become a favorite of many criminals, for various reasons.
Fortunately, it is quite possible to obtain fingerprints from the gloves themselves at this point.
They are found left either on the outside from the criminal’s donning or stripping of the glove or on the interior of a tightly fitted glove when it is turned inside out. A pair of Nitrile gloved hands, if tightly fitted, may even leave a print on an exterior surface.
After the Nitrile is worn for a while, warming and conforming to the fingers, and the criminal touches any oily surface (something as simple as rubbing one’s neck), a detectable fingerprint can
transfer to objects.
The devious ways of criminals will shortly be seriously challenged by a new weapon in the sleuth’s arsenal.
Gloves will no longer be even a medially effective means of escaping detection.
It turns out that some very small critters, bacteria, which humans cannot rid themselves of are getting some serious forensic attention.
Bacteria colonies living on our skin exist in unique blends of which only 13% are shared by any two individuals.
About 150 bacteria species are present on a person’s hand and can trail to fabrics and other materials at a crime scene.
It is possible to successfully trace this personalized bacteria 12 hours or more after it has been deposited on surfaces.
According to a recent Associated Press report, this developing forensic tool is so cutting edge that this type of scientific analysis was not possible even two years ago.
Perhaps with the advent of this news, surgical scrub techniques will soon extend beyond the medical world to the domain of crooks who once thought Nitrile gloves were adequate for keeping the law off their trail.
However, it seems fairly unlikely that a “dirty rat” pawing through a domestic burglary or worse would be very successful in keeping his germs to himself.
For our part, we are only too happy to give up the potential sales of gloves to the dark side, as criminals realize that
gloves or not, they'll be leaving prints.