The bacterial touch

"So", the policeman said, waving his machine, "anything stolen?"

The sad victim of the awful crime of burglary sniffed, then shook her head. "No. Nothing I've noticed."

"Well then, let us see." The policeman's machine was much like a handheld vacuum cleaner, with a wire running into the the dark blue headset over his eyes. The effect would have been comical if not for the respectable dark blue coloring of it all. "This is the Bacteriarator 2100, the newest technology available, and starting from here from the forced window I can with it follow the tracks that vile scum individual left behind."

"Scum? Tracks?" the woman asked, faintly alarmed.

"Nothing to worry about miss; just the trail of bacteria each of us leaves behind on everything we touch. Every touch of a hand!" the policeman proclaimed, holding up a hand. Then he looked at his paw, frowned, and dropped it. Sometimes it wasn't so good thinking one was a person like everyone else.

The homeowner wasn't exactly comforted by this micro-orgasmic illumination, but she nodded anyway. "Okay. So you can track where he went, and I just follow and see if anything's missing?"

"Right so, miss. As we caught him already, we've all of the cultures we need, from every cranny of his body. You see --- well, you don't have the glasses, but I see that there's a smudge here on the window frame, and by the culture in this here detector I know it's the left palm. Here on the catch there's the right palm."


The policeman moved away from the window, waving his thingamajic around, chattering all the while. "Good thing he was barefoot... footprint here, here, here... there a palmprint against the wall, oh, he must have stumbled, here are his knees on the carpet... step, step and... oh dear, wouldn't believe my eyes if I didn't have the bacteria, the fool's tripped over the couch --- shin-bacteria there --- and planted his face in carpet. This explains why he didn't take anything; the poor fool was blind drunk. Oh wait..."

"That's the light switch", the woman volunteered, and the policeman cleared his throat, loudly.

"Why yes, yes obviously darkness does simulate drunkenness somewhat, yes obviously. And from here he proceeded somewhat quicker towards the kitchen, leaving just footprints, prints of the bottoms of his feet, we sampled all the major and minor areas of body for their individual populations of bacteria... and then he turns left ---"

"That's the toilet."

"Er yes into the lavatory. And here he... palmprints on both sides of the mirror, so he's leaning here like this looking at his own face... criminals tend to be narcissistic like that... he's probably thinking he's so clever for getting inside and... oh, oh... bacteria of his fingers on the door of the medicine cabinet and here's ---"

"I don't keep anything there except my toothbrush. And that's there still."

"Er yes, would have no doubt been a disappointment to our scumling, to open a medicine cabinet, expecting to find expensive medications, to find only a toothbrush... oh... oh dear, oh dear."


"Ew. I... I would recommend throwing that toothbrush away. Preferably without touching it at all. Don't ask where it has been."

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Inspired by the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe having a mention about identification by bacteria.

last updated: (Mar 15 2011)