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Home >Criminal Investigation & Forensics > Crime Lab > Lab Services > Latent Prints-Footwear and Tires

Latent Prints-Footwear and Tires

Footwear and tire impression evidence is some of the most valuable evidence left at crime scenes but it is often overlooked! It is overlooked oftentimes because the impressions are destroyed by crime scene respondents, crime scene technicians don't know what to look for or they just don't know how to collect it. But if detected, protected and collected, it can be crucial in placing a suspect, or a suspect vehicle at a scene. Criminals can wear gloves and they can do everything in their power minimize leaving behind physical evidence but everyone has to enter and exit a scene and unless they are floating in air, they are leaving footwear impressions. Sometimes footwear and tire impressions will be the only evidence left behind by the perpetrator.

Because of the evidentiary value of footwear and tire mark impressions, crime scene respondents are trained to locate, protect and collect these impressions. The Latent Print Section of the Maine State Police Crime Lab then examines the crime scene impressions and compares them to known footwear/tires much like crime scene fingerprints are compared to known, inked fingerprints. Just as in fingerprints, the minute details in each and every tire and article of footwear can be used to identify an unknown crime scene impression to a known article of footwear or a tire.

Footwear and tire impressions are made up of many different substances such as grease, blood, mud and dust. Here in Maine, it is common to locate and collect a footwear/tire impression in snow. Some have even been located in in deep pile carpet. The most important means of capturing these impressions is through photography, so every impression should be photographed correctly prior to any attempt to collect. The principle ways to collect footwear and tire impression evidence include photography, dusting and lifting, electrostatic dust lifting and casting.

Click here: For tips on how to correctly photograph and collect footwear and tire impression evidence.