Detective Tips and Tricks

Crime Scene Tips

  • • Initial responding officers must look, listen to, and smell the crime scene. Listening can help an officer find victims or even hear the criminal escaping. Smelling can help an officer detect blood, a body, dangerous chemicals, and even method of death.
  • • Officers are instructed to help victims; however, if a victim is dying, the first officer on the scene must attempt to get a "dying declaration" from the victim immediately.
  • • Crime scenes are heavily restricted — people can't smoke, chew tobacco, use the telephone or bathroom, eat, drink, move anything, sit anywhere, adjust the thermostat, open windows or doors, or touch anything.
  • • The initial officer must document everything about the scene: broken or moved furniture, windows open/closed, lights on/off, blinds open/closed, smells, weather, temperature, presence of ice or liquids at the scene, and more.
  • • To document the crime scene, detectives use everything from sketches to aerial photographs and audio recordings.
  • • Projectile trajectory (i.e. bullet direction) and blood patterns can often tell detectives everything they need to know about how and from where a victim was assaulted.

Crime Scene Essentials

Burglary (Breaking and entering)

  • • Photograph scene
  • • Document point of entry
  • • Document state of room
  • • Document point of entry (POE)
  • • Note and photograph tool marks at POE
  • • Check for paint residue at POE
  • • Find and cast footprints
  • • Find and cast tire tracks
  • • Check for latent prints
  • • Look for glass remnants
  • • Find soil remnants
  • • Vacuum for hair and fibers


  • • Follow all steps on Burglary checklist
  • • Check for hair on victim
  • • Scrape under fingernails
  • • Collect blood samples
  • • Photograph wounds close up
  • • Document & photograph clothing of victim
  • • Find clothing remnants of suspect
  • • Identify weapon type and search for weapon
  • • Take identification photos of victim
  • • Attend autopsy for more evidence

Sexual Assault

  • • Take samples of victim clothing
  • • Find remnants of suspect clothing
  • • Document and take samples of all stains on victim and in area
  • • Document location of occurrence
  • • Use Sexual Assault kit
  • • Scrape under victim fingernails
  • • Document and sample all bloodstains
  • • Collect any linens
  • • Check for latent prints
  • • Vacuum for hair and fibers
  • • If assault happened after a forced entry, follow items on Burglary Checklist.

Check out these other important tips and tricks: