Criminals Mangle Fingers to Erase Their Prints

By acid, fire, or knife, mutilators look to beat the system
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 21, 2010 5:51 PM CDT
The biometrics industry's thinnest and most durable fingerprint sensor was announced today by Sonavation, Inc., of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.   (Photo: Business Wire)
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(Newser) – It's painful, disgusting, and not always successful, but increasing numbers of people are mutilating their fingertips to prevent fingerprint ID, the Boston Globe reports. The numbers are relatively small—20 such arrests last year—but Massachusetts State Police have noticed a seven-fold increase in the number of perps with mangled fingertips over the last decade. Some burn their digits or scar them with acid, though others hire underworld surgeons or simply chew their fingers beyond recognition.

“It’s definitely an increasing phenomenon," says one detective, and it sometimes works—meaning authorities must go to extraordinary measures to identify suspects. “The people who do this are pretty desperate,’’ said the detective. "I can’t imagine the pain it must take. You have to get deep down, in the nerve endings. I see these people, to go to this extreme, as a real danger to society.’’

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