How to take fingerprints

Written by ehow contributor
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You're at the scene of a crime, but you left the fingerprint kit at the office. No need to worry. Using common household items and a little ingenuity, you can improvise to get solid fingerprints from a crime scene.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Pencil
  • Knife
  • Coin
  • Feather or fine hair brush
  • Transparent tape
  • Large white index card or piece of paper

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Look for objects that can potentially carry fingerprints. Fingerprints leave better impressions on smooth objects. These items hold the best prints: glass, painted surfaces, metal, linoleum, varnished woods and paper.

  2. 2

    Grind some graphite power from a pencil. Using a knife, break the lead from a pencil into tiny pieces. Use a coin on a flat surface to grind the pieces into a fine powder.

  3. 3

    Sprinkle the powder onto your object. Lay the object on a flat table and gently coat the surface of the object with a fine layer of graphite powder.

  4. 4

    Reveal the fingerprint. Lightly dust the powder off the surface with a feather. The powder will stay attached to the oils from the suspect's skin, and a fingerprint should take shape. Be sure to dust very lightly, or you may dust away the fingerprint.

  5. 5

    Transfer the fingerprint. Holding a small strip of transparent tape at both ends, place the tape over the fingerprint. Press it down for a moment, then carefully pull the tape up from one end. The fingerprint will transfer onto the tape.

  6. 6

    Place the tape face down on an index card. Repeat the process for each finger you can find prints for on the object, and place them on the same card.

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