White Sneakers and Black Leather Shoes

May 23, 2024

Insufficient objective evidence makes it difficult to draw conclusions

On July 14, 2023, a Linping resident (referred to as Mr. Sun for anonymity) reported the theft of luxury items such as watches and precious stones from his home, with an estimated loss exceeding 2 million RMB.
The police promptly identified a suspect, Zhang, and apprehended him on July 19. Circumstantial evidence linked Zhang to a luxury recycling store where stolen goods were sold, and some of the stolen items were recovered. However, Zhang denied any involvement in the alleged theft. While surveillance footage captured Zhang entering and exiting the district with a backpack on two occasions, there was no visual evidence of him accessing Mr. Sun's residence. Further more, Zhang's fingerprints, DNA, and shoeprints were not found at the crime scene.
On July 21, the prosecutor reviewed the case and determined that the objective evidence linking Zhang to the alleged theft was insufficient, prompting law enforcement to gather additional evidence.

A shoeprint linked the chain of custody

"Re-examine the crime scene!" Prosecutors and law enforcement conducted a thorough re-examination of Mr. Sun's residence, inside and outside, ultimately discovering a partial shoe print on the glass roof of the sunroom.
Figure 1 Sunroom roof of the victim's home
Perplexed by the discovery of shoeprints on the 27th floor sunroom roof, investigators remarked, "This is highly unusual and suspicious." Expanding their search, they uncovered additional matching shoetprints in the fire escape hallway and outside a window on the 30th floor penthouse.
Figure 2 Shoeprints left outside a window on 30th floor penthouse
Thepolice meticulously collected the shoeprint evidence and conducted a forensicanalysis, cross-referencing it against a shoe database. The print wasidentified as originating from a men's leather shoe model that Zhang hadpurchased in March 2022. Notably, prosecutors uncovered that the same distinctiveshoeprint pattern had been linked to another theft case in which Zhang was asuspect.
Figure 3 Corresponding black leather shoes
 Surveillance footage clearly depicted Zhang wearing white sneakers while carrying a backpack, prompting investigators to delve deeper into his MO (modus operandi). Through meticulous analysis and synthesis of the evidence, police officers reconstructed Zhang's likely course of action.
Figure 4 The man who was wearing white sneakers
To avoid detection, Zhang initially wore white sneakers to enter the district. However, he subsequently changed into black leather shoes before accessing the fire escape, ascending to the 30th floor, and then descending to the 27th floor sunroom. It is believed that Zhang gained entry to Mr. Sun's residence through the sunroom window to commit the theft. After exiting, he is suspected of changing back into his white sneakers before proceeding to aluxury goods recycling store to sell the stolen items.
On August 14, 2023, faced with the overwhelming evidence, Zhang confessed to the details of the crime, leading the court to approve his arrest in accordance with the law.