Fighting crime one fingerprint at a time

Posted at 6:57 PM, Apr 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-13 18:57:58-04

West Palm Beach resident Gregg Weiss says he was stunned when a home he was renovating was burglarized, "As I was walking up to the door, began to see inside the kitchen and all my appliances had been removed from the kitchen."

He called police. But a year and a half later, the criminals still haven't been caught. When it comes to catching criminals, West Palm Beach Police Officer Philip Williams says newer technology could be a game changer.

When he investigates a crime like a burglary, he's been trained to try and find fingerprints at the scene. Officer Williams said, "My motto is if you see something get it so I get it and it's let to arrest or led to investigations that ended up with suspects."

Now, thanks to newer technology he can process and identify those fingerprints faster, sometimes within minutes. Fingerprint expert Robert Crowetz says the faster they can identify fingerprints, the faster they can get criminals behind bars, "Latent fingerprints has a tendency to solve a lot more crimes in cases faster and a larger volume."

He says a new expanded database lets investigators can find a match for 60 percent of prints they recover - compared to just 20 percent a few years ago. "We can get the name before the detective can hit the streets getting a name on their own, so our clearance rate has gone up," Crowetz says.