Nike Air Max trainers are some of the most popular for criminals, according to the footprints found by real-life Sherlock Holmes sleuths.
Crime scene investigators can tell exactly what trainers a criminal was wearing just by a partial print left behind. With a bulking database big enough to make the most ardent of sneaker collectors green with envy, there’s no shoe print beyond identification for forensics boffins.
When asked what prints often show up on investigations, Thames Valley Police CSI expert Doran told the Daily Star: “It used to be the Reebok classics, a lot of the Nike Air Max brands as well, were really, really common, we used to see those on offenders all the time.”
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Doran explained how collecting evidence in the shape of footprints, comes into its own when suspects have their footwear confiscated in custody. He said: “Even if the print is partial they can search it on the database and say right that’s a Nike Air Force One. “We can match up the prints, that’s part of the intelligence so just like taking dna we’re allowed to take and seize their shoes when arrested.”
It’s not only the exact model investigators are interested in, but how they’re worn too, with everyone’s walking pattern pretty much unique to them and subsequently some parts of the shoe more worn than others. And that’s before tracing soil from swiped footwear is taken into equation.
For all the popularity among criminals for pricey sportswear brands, Doran couldn’t help but smirk recounting one particular shoe print he and his team have recognised. He said: “We’ve had crocs at crime scenes before.
“People we arrest we have to take their shoes so we give them school plimsolls, elasticated ones and we’ve seen those turn up at crime scenes as well. You know can be almost anything. I would say Crocs take a mark on the sole as much as any shoe, they are quite distinctive.
“And regards to this database the a lot of the common shoes, they’ll just look even at a partial sole mark and go ‘oh yes that’s an Adidas 524', they just recognise it because they’re dealing with them all the time.
In recent years Doran has swapped going out on the frontline of Thames Valley Police investigations for training new recruits. He added: “I wouldn't like to put my finger on now what would be the most common shoe is anymore that we see.
“We still see a lot of Nike trainers. I hope I’m not libelling Nike or anything by saying that but yeah it’s the popular trainers that people like to wear, criminals like to wear them too. They seem to go for a lot of expensive brands but we do see all sorts.”
Even Sherlock Holmes was at it, albeit before knowing the ins and outs of every sole sold at the likes of JD Sports and Sports Direct.
Doran said: "He actually says in one of his books, or Arthur Conan Doyle does, the tracing of footprints being the most underrated scientific technique for detecting crime. And in some respects that’s true today because people focus on DNA and finger prints but actually there’s a vast range of fibres, glass, paint, hair, all sorts of things we can utilise.
DNA and fingerprints are extremely useful but there’s lots of other evidence types as well. And Sherlock Holmes did in terms of trace evidence, I don’t know about 101 different types of cigarette ash but a lot of the tracing of evidence he talks about are still relevant today."
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