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Development of Reverse Fingerprint Lifting Techniques for Forensic Applications

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Identification Volume: 8 Issue: 1 Dated: March 2020
T.C. Johnson ; A.S. Brown ; Z. Oommen ; U. Okafor ; Y. Lee
Date Published
March 2020
8 pages

This research focused on the reliability and effectiveness of the reverse lifting method of fingerprint development, in which tapes are used to lift the latent prints from objects and areas that are suspected to have fingerprints, which avoids dusting or chemically treating objects directly for fingerprints, since the traditional use of powder or chemical treatment of objects destroys other forensic evidence, such as microbiome.


In the current research, reverse fingerprinting was conducted on 20 objects in a work-place environment, including a cabinet handle, cell phone, door knob, keyboard, mouse, office phone, and stapler. Four types of tapes were used for lifting prints. The lifted invisible prints were then observed by three methods: forensic light source, powder dusting, and adhesive-side developer. Developed visible fingerprints were then photographed. Results indicated that the reverse lifting method worked well with glazed/smooth surfaces, such as a mug, computer mouse, window, and door. The reverse fingerprint lifting enabled investigators to use other forensic applications on the taped objects, including the microbiome-based analysis. The study concludes that the ridge details developed with the new methods are comparable to the conventional methods of fingerprint development. Packing tape and masking tape were able to lift the invisible prints more effectively than duct tape and clear tape. Developing solution worked well with the objects tested compared to powder. Other chemical methods of development are being considered for future studies. 18 figures, 3 tables, and 15 references