Investigators Rely On Palm Prints To Catch Criminals


UPDATED: Friday December 7, 2012 6:46 PM

Fingerprints have helped police solve crimes for decades, but increasingly, investigators have come to rely on another type of print to catch crooks.

Westerville detectives are using palm prints to help them solve crimes.

Recently, Westerville Police Detective Timothy Ray scanned palm prints from a crime scene. His first match showed up on a bank check.

“We’d like to have an eight-to-10 match on them,” Ray said. “This came back with like 35 matches. So, it had really good characterizes, good print.”

An increasing number of police departments are taking palm prints as well as fingerprints when they book crime suspects. Many now do so electronically, instead of with ink.

The state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification in London, Ohio, collects the prints to check about a database.

“Just like fingerprints, they are unique to each individual person, so they are a wonderful means of identification,” said Robin Roggenbeck, a BCI forensic scientist.

Roggenbeck said that she also looks for palm prints on physical evidence, like a drink can. After exposing it to superglue fumes, she dusts powder on the surface to make the prints appear.

Other scientists search for the prints under a special light.

Scientists then transfer the prints to paper and do a computer search for matches.

Roggenbeck said that the palm prints are good tools to help catch criminals.

“We’ve gotten hits on just the palm and not the fingers, and then later on, we find out that the fingerprints matched the victim, and the palm print was that of the subject or perpetrator in the case,” Roggenbeck said.

Ray said that the prints have helped him solve cases.

“The possibility of solving crime now compared to what it was is just tremendous,” Ray said.

Currently, there are 7 million fingerprints in the state’s system, but only half a million palm prints.

BCI experts said that as more police departments take palm prints, they will become even more useful.

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