When the police arrive at a crime scene the yellow tape goes up securing the scene. We’ve all seen it on the television show, CSI. In fact, according to CSI Los Angeles, Miami, Navy and everywhere on television it’s the science of the crime scene investigation which solves the crime. The rest of the actors are just the means to the end. It’s the DNA, fingerprint analysis, and countless other scientific advances that lead to the solving of the crime. But, what happens to the evidence once it’s collected?
It’s the Crime Scene Investigator’s job to collect the evidence. This evidence can be identified by the first responders, the detectives at the scene, and the CSI people themselves. Some of it is located simply by drawing a chalk mark around it and some has to be found by means of instruments. Once collected it’s placed in collection containers. These can be as simple as paper lunch sacks. For example, bullet casings are often placed into paper lunch sacks. The container is then closed and secured with evidence tape, initialed by the collector, and placed into an evidence locker for later analysis or use in court.
But, what happens if the evidence is collected and then given back to the victim? For example, if a wallet is stolen, and the culprit is found a short time later with the wallet often times the police will give the wallet back to the victim. Sometimes photographs may be taken to preserve the look of the item but the possibility of forensic analysis is lost forever to the suspect. DNA analysis is no longer a possibility once the item is returned without any attempt to preserve the item for analysis.