Fingerprints are something that never crosses peoples’ minds daily. Actually, unless somebody is trying to eliminate pesky fingerprints from mirrors or furniture, it is unlikely an ordinary person thinks of fingerprints in any way.
But for some, fingerprints are a vital part of their job. Law enforcement officers and forensic experts spend hours thinking about how fingerprints solve crimes as they try to find, collect, document and compare those special identifiers that can link someone to a particular crime. These people understand that a simple human characteristic which most people for granted, can be among the very best instrument in crime solving.
Each person is born with their particular set of fingerprints. No two fingerprints have ever been proven to be precisely alike; not on identical twin and not even on an individual’s own hand. The formation of these unique whorls and lines that constitute an individual’s fingerprints happen at the fetal period and stay the same during one’s lifetime. This creates a unique mark which can single out an individual linked to a particular crime, especially when a person already has their fingerprints in the records of the police or other government institutions.
Fingerprints comprise a set of swirling lines. How these lines shape and design themselves is what makes each fingerprint unique. Regardless of the incredible variety of unique fingerprints, there are only seven distinct kinds of lines which make up fingerprints. These lines may start, stop or divide at any point within the print. The shapes, lengths, angles, heights, and widths create billions and billions of unique prints.
Using their unique qualities, it becomes easy to see how fingerprints can help solve crimes. Leaving a fingerprint is like dropping a calling card at the crime scene. There are different ways fingerprints are left behind by poor crooks. The most common way is by oil or fat that’s transferred by the finger onto an object such as a doorframe or desk. Amino acids in the finger may even leave a discernable mark. Fingerprints may also be detected as an impression on a soft substance like putty. Lastly, they can be drawn up using a material on the finger such as blood.
Uncovering fingerprints help solve a crime could be accomplished in a few ways. Adhering powders onto new fingerprints will make the powder adhere to the grease making the fingerprint visible. Another way is by utilizing a few drops of cyano-acrylate or superglue. When these drops are heated, they vaporize, and their smoke attaches to the fingerprint leaving a white print. Specialised crime scene laboratory equipment may also find fingerprints, but not all authorities have access to all equipment.
Fingerprints can be stored for further investigation in many of ways, such as: taking photographs of the print and storing them on a tape or rubber lifter.
Hopefully, the interconnected nature of our society will eventually lead to having all of the fingerprint databases connected for easy cross-reference.