WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- A good fingerprint at a crime scene isn't always the smoking gun for solving crimes. Thanks to new technology, crime solving is going digital.
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Ernest Brice had plans to rent out his house, but it became a target for burglars instead. Thieves stole almost everything inside.
"I feel victimized," Brice told Ivanhoe.
Brice's crime was never solved, but police say digital evidence left behind from cell phones, computers or PDAs can be found at nearly every crime scene.
"A lot of times, it's evidence that will take you to your next step in the investigative lead, so it will tell us who this person has been in touch with or who they've been emailing or texting," Richard Mislan, Ph.D., a cyber-forensic researcher at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., told Ivanhoe.
To help dig up digital evidence and catch criminals, cyber-forensic researchers use a device called a flasher box. It finds clues hiding in cell phones.
"A flasher box is used for extracting a full memory from a mobile phone," Dr. Mislan said.
A phone's memory card is removed and plugged into a flasher box. Computer software extracts the phone's coded information and decodes the information to reveal the phone's call history, text messages, e-mails, calendar, images and videos. This information is then used by cops as clues to solve crimes.
"It's an inside look into that person, much more than just a fingerprint," Dr. Mislan said.
The technology also helps victims of serious crimes by finding clues from computers to show who last contacted the victim and last visited Web sites or e-mails.
"It's a way of helping us find the perpetrator or the suspect and taking us to that next step," Dr. Mislan said.
Solving crimes isn't easy. Just ask Brice -- but now, technology may help cops get one step ahead of the bad guys. Researchers are now developing a first-responder digital evidence collection kit to gather evidence immediately at the scene of a crime.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.
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