Footwear Impressions in Crime Scene Investigations _ Part 4 Betrayed by the Shoeprint

August 17, 2023

For a perpetrator it is crucial to avoid leaving any evidence at a crime scene, including shoeprints, as they could lead to their identification. In a recent series of thefts,the only physical evidence found was a shoeprint, which was later used to identify the suspect.

The county police station received alarms from local business owners about their shops being robbed. Although their losses were not large, the nature of the crimes was pretty serious.

July 9, 2023, 04:00 AM. Internet cafe called a theft of 690 yuan.

July 10, 2023, 07:00 AM. Convenience store called a break-in where the perpetrator broke the lock, stole over 500 yuan and 2 cartons of cigarettes, with a total loss of 1,400 yuan.

On the same day, at 08:00 AM, a milk tea shop called a break-in where the perpetrator broke the lock, stole 112 yuan.

July 11, 2023, 06:00 AM. Restaurant called a break-in where the thief entered through a window and stole over 400 yuan.

On the same day, at 07:00 AM, a supermarket called a theft of 750 yuan and 3 cartons of cigarettes, with a total loss of 1,500 yuan.

After investigating the crime scenes, the police officers found that the targets of the crimes were all public places, and fingerprint and DNA evidence was of low value. Additionally, the shoeprints on the ground were too chaotic to be used for recognition. However, one police officer discovered a valuable clue while investigating the restaurant scene. The thief entered and escaped through a window, leaving a dusty shoeprint on the windowsill. This was the only valuable clue left at the crime scenes.

In such short time, multiple crimes were committed. According to thepolice analysis, the frequent thefts without any valid evidence indicate thatthe thief has some criminal skills and is likely a habitual offender. Moreover,there could be victims who did not call the crimes simply due to small losses.Although the total value stolen during the series of cases is not large, it lefta negative impact on the community.

Since there was no evidence left at the crime scenes, the police decidedto use CCTV video footage to search for the suspect's facial features bychecking the store's surveillance cameras and safety cameras on the streets.However, the amount of video footage was enormous and could not be analyzedefficiently. To avoid further delays, the police chief decided to conduct a focusedinvestigation of public places first. The investigation narrowed in on hotels,restaurants, and entertainment venues near the thefts, looking for individualswith criminal records, especially those with theft records.

After a long night of investigation, three suspects were identified andtaken back to the police station for interrogation and collection of biometrics.After collecting the shoeprints of a suspect named Wang, an automated comparison was made. It matched the shoeprint found at the crime scene. After the final shoeprint examination and identification by the forensic laboratory, the shoeprint was confirmed to be left by Wang's shoes.

During the video footage analysis, the police discovered that Wang had appeared multiple times in videos of each theft scene during the daytime, observing his targets. Despite disguising himself during the nighttime crimes, his body shape and walking posture were unmistakable, and the most prominent feature was that he wore a pair of slippers. Faced with the evidence,the suspect confessed to his criminal activity.

Having been recently released from prison, he had found employment at a local restaurant. However, he had become addicted to online gaming and needed more money to buy virtual items and upgrades, which made him resort to stealing once again. However, since the cashin the stores was insufficient, he had to target multiple locations to fuel his gaming addiction.