It’s not as easy to get fingerprint evidence from a gun as detective dramas might have you believe (Image: Rex/Shutterstock)
Evidence has appeared out of the air. A team of investigators for the Italian police has lifted a fingerprint off a pistol trigger with the help of vaporised superglue.
Triggers might seem like a natural place to look for fingerprints, but they are small and get touched repeatedly, so it can be hard to get clear, usable prints from them. Despite what you see on TV, firearms in general aren’t a good source of fingerprints – a recent study suggests only 13 per cent produce usable evidence – and the trigger is the most difficult area to study.
“We obtained a result which you can see perhaps only in the TV series,” says Andrea Chiuri of the Department of Scientific Investigations in Parma, one of the investigators.
The gun in question was a small pistol found in a warehouse in Italy last year. There was no record of who owned it, which is illegal in Italy – all guns must carry an identification number and be registered with the local police. The gun was kept in cold storage for eight months before analysis, after which investigators looked for prints using visible and ultraviolet light, but found nothing that might identify the gun’s owner.
Prints revealed on this gun trigger by vaporised glue were successfully matched to a person (Image: NCBI/Elsevier)
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