Top 20 ways to totally mess up a crime scene

In humor there is truth, so with the help of some of my friends and PoliceOne colleagues, I’ve compiled a list of ways to truly screw up a crime scene


Nothing destroys evidence at an outdoor crime scene faster than inclement weather, with the exception of maybe a nosy cop who has nothing to do with the case. Nothing destroys evidence at an indoor crime scene faster than allowing the brass — who has nothing to do with the case — to march around picking stuff up and asking, “Hey, you see how this item is out of place?” 

“Yes, Sheriff, we do now.”

In humor there is truth. With the help of some of my friends and PoliceOne colleagues, I’ve compiled a list of ways to truly screw up a crime scene. Here are 20 funny — from real to surreal — ways to destroy a crime scene: 

1.)    You put your foot next to the suspects foot print to see what size it is
2.)    You post a crime scene photo on social media, soon discovering that you suddenly have a lot more time for social media
3.)    You enlarge the vomit stain on the rug with your own contribution
4.)    You collect a dozen samples for DNA testing, all while wearing the same gloves
5.)    You wait ten weeks for a fingerprint or DNA check only to find out that the print belongs to you 
6.)    You bag up green leafy vegetation — and other moist, organic evidence — in a plastic sandwich bag and then leave it in there, unopened, until the case goes to trial
7.)    You let the chief into the crime scene 
8.)    You fail to let the chief into the crime scene 
9.)    You use (and then flush) the toilet at the crime scene
10.)   You allow the fire department (a.k.a. “the evidence eradication team”) in first
11.)   You let everyone present at the scene approach it from a different route, path, or door
12.)   You tell the rookie that the only way to test the time of death of a bloated body is to poke it and see if the skin bounces back (and then actually let him do it)
13.)   You start comingling your actual crime scene training with an episode of CSI you saw a few years ago
14.)   You hear your captain tell you not to put his name on the list of people who entered the crime scene (and you actually leave him off the list)
15.)   You totally blow off procedure because “It started out as a petty call” — until you found the body
16.)   You pick up and examine an object, then put it back like you think you found it, and then decide to photograph it
17.)   You pick up evidence firearms by sticking a pen or pencil into the barrel
18.)   You unload all firearms found at the crime scene before placing them into evidence
19.)   You dump all the ammunition from these firearms into the same box or bag
20.)   You smell the container, which ultimately ends up with the coroner bagging two bodies rather than one

Do you have any more? Add some of your own ideas in the comments area below.

About the author

Doug Wyllie is Editor in Chief of PoliceOne, responsible for setting the editorial direction of the website and managing the planned editorial features by our roster of expert writers. An award-winning columnist — he is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner in the category of Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column — Doug has authored more than 800 feature articles and tactical tips on a wide range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community. Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA). Even in his "spare" time, he is active in his support for the law enforcement community, contributing his time and talents toward police-related charitable events as well as participating in force-on-force training, search-and-rescue training, and other scenario-based training designed to prepare cops for the fight they face every day on the street.

Read more articles by PoliceOne Editor in Chief Doug Wyllie by clicking here.

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