Fire Scene Evidence Collection Guide

Tape & Tape Fragments

Detailed Procedure:

Tape is often used in creating explosive and incendiary devices. There are many different kinds of tape that may be encountered at the fire scene. Tape can be found on the roll or as torn or cut pieces affixed to substrates.

To collect unused or partially used rolls of tape:

  1. Photograph the tape in place.

  2. Wear new, unused, clean latex or nitrile gloves.

  3. Collect the tape roll carefully, bearing in mind that it might contain fingerprints or trace evidence adhering to the sides. Carefully place the tape roll in a plastic bag or other suitable container and protect it from damage.

  4. Seal the container with evidence tape. Initial and date the tape.

  5. Label the container with identifying information, including case number, date, exhibit number, a brief description, and your name.

  6. Store the item in a secure location, such as a locked evidence van or your vehicle, until you are able to transport it to the laboratory.

To collect tape fragments:

  1. Photograph the tape in place.

  2. Wear new, unused, clean latex or nitrile gloves.

  3. Tape should be left intact on the substrate. DO NOT REMOVE LAYERS. Collect the entire item. Carefully place the item in a suitable container. Take care to protect it from damage during transport and be mindful of preserving the evidence for fingerprints, DNA, and/or trace evidence that could be stuck to the tape.

  4. If the tape must be removed, cut it off the object. Do not unwind the tape. Remove the section of tape, layers still intact (as much as possible), and indicate in your notes or on the evidence label that you cut the tape. If there is any adhesive exposed, be sure not to package it in a paper bag because the tape will stick to the paper.

  5. Seal the container with evidence tape. Initial and date the tape.

  6. Label the container with identifying information, including case number, date, exhibit number, a brief description, and your name.

  7. Store the item in a secure location, such as a locked evidence van or your vehicle, until you are able to transport it to the laboratory.

Laboratory testing of tape:

  • Tape can be described by class characteristics and possibly linked to a manufacturer.

  • Torn or cut tape fragments may be able to be physically matched to the torn or cut end on a roll of tape. In addition, microscopic examination and chemical analysis may be able to determine if the two samples are consistent or if one sample may have originated from another tape source.

  • Trace evidence, DNA, or fingerprints may be present between the tape layers and can be examined using the procedures for that type of evidence.

 

Source:

Crime Scene and Evidence Collection Handbook. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, 2005.


"SWGMAT Web Site." Scientific Working Group for Materials Analysis, Website, July 1, 2013.

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