In criminal investigations fingerprints are one of the oldest and most common types of physical evidence found at a crime scene. One of the primary goals of the investigation deals with identification. Whether the identification is that of an unknown victim (body found at the side of the road) or that of the perpetrator of a crime. The ridge detail developed and recovered at a crime scene and later identified by a fingerprint examiner becomes an investigative lead (starting point) for the detectives assigned to the investigation. A fingerprint is simply defined as friction ridge detail of the hands and the feet.
Conventional powders, applied with a fiber or hair brush, are the most common type of powders used at crime scenes. They are generally inexpensive, cover a large area when applied with a brush and readily develop prints on most non-porous surfaces. The main drawback is that conventional powders are generally very light and airy and can become airborne at the slightest flick of the brush, creating a mess.
After the scene has been processed, home and business owners can be left with the clean up. Laws and policies differ from one jurisdiction to the next. Sometimes, the home or business owner can get estimates and file a claim for reimbursement with the law enforcement agency who made the mess. Homeowners, renters or business interruption insurance policies may cover the amount that exceeds the deductible. In other cases, the entire cleaning and resulting financial burden falls to the occupant of the property who may become even more-so the victim of the crime.
The key to cleaning this mess is to remove all loose particles without introducing water into the equation, and to complete the process as quickly as possible. Specific chemicals and graphite removing agents are used to lift the surface in a fashion as not to spread the powder while also protecting the surface from discoloration. Tackling this type of cleanup without the help of professionals can certainly lead to more damage by deeply embedding it into the surface and/or spreading airborne. Individuals partaking in this type of remediation should be trained, certified and have vast experience to limit damage and clean the surface in a timely and cost effective manner.