How to See Fingerprints on a Keypad: Everything You Need to Know

How to See Fingerprints on a Keypad

You’re worried whether your cheating spouse has been getting into your private safe. How can you tell? There’s a simple way to check to see who’s been touching your keypad. You need to see if there are fingerprints other than yours on the keys. It’s not very difficult once you know how to find them. I will walk you through everything you need to know to get your fingerprints and check the keypad to see if the marks there match.

Take Your Own Fingerprints

Getting your prints to compare to the keypad is simple. You don’t need to jump through any hoops or hire a professional to get an idea of what your fingerprints should look like. Luckily, you can do this at home with very little investment.

First, you’ll need a regular stamp pad, which you can pick up at any craft store. Choose a dark color of ink, so it’s easy to see. Next, you need an everyday white piece of paper and a lighted magnifying lamp to get a good look. Finally, take each finger on your dominant hand, that’s the one you use to push the keypad buttons and press them into the stamp pad one at a time.

If you don’t already own an outstanding magnifying lamp, then I suggest the Brightech LightView Pro Flex from Amazon. It’s a high-quality magnifier and light that can clamp on wherever you need it. You’ll find plenty of uses for it beyond fingerprint observation. You can get one for yourself when you click here.

Take Your Prints

Starting on one side of your finger, roll the top gently, so the full print ends up on the paper. Label each print if you like, so you know what finger they are. Since most people use their index finger to push buttons, you could get away with just printing your pointer.

Wash the ink off your hand. Now you only need to keep the paper and your magnifying glass around for comparison. The ability to eliminate your prints will tell you if someone else has indeed been in your safe. Or at least it will tell you if they tried.

Keep in mind; your cheating spouse isn’t the only one who could have attempted to break in. Children, thieves, visitors, and relatives have all been known to touch other people’s keypads. If your kids are tiny, it will be evident that the prints are not from an adult.

Fingerprints 101

Seeing fingerprints on a keypad isn’t much harder than taking your prints for comparison. Though the science of fingerprinting has been around for over a hundred years, the process is still straightforward. In 1892 an Argentinian Inspector named Eduardo Alvarez was the first to identify a criminal using fingerprints.

In the century-plus since then, we’ve developed a few new methods of fingerprinting. Moreover, there are large fingerprint databases now that help us identify criminals. Though perhaps the most exciting breakthrough in fingerprint technology came in 2015.

Researchers in the Netherlands discovered the ability to tell the age of a fingerprint that is less than fifteen days old. We’re learning new things all the time, and for experts, the study of prints can be engrossing. However, as a casual observer, you can learn almost anything you need to know about fingerprints in a few moments.

Patent Vs. Latent Prints

There are two different kinds of fingerprints you might find. The first, patent prints are easy to spot. These prints are literally visible to the naked eye. Crime scene investigators find patent prints regularly. When a criminal has mud, blood, or another substance on their hands, and they touch something, like a keypad, it’s obvious.

When someone has a visible substance on their hands, like the ink you used to collect your fingerprints in the exercise above, it leaves a distinct mark. However, these aren’t the only patent prints. Other examples of patent fingerprints include things like when you grip a bar of soap or a ball of clay and leave an impression.

However, you’re most likely looking for the other kind of fingerprints. Latent fingerprints are less noticeable. They’re made up of the oils and particles of skin when a person puts a hand down pretty much anywhere. These need to be discovered and developed so you can examine them easily.

Have you ever seen a detective on TV dust for prints? They’re looking for latent fingerprints. If you want to see the marks on a keypad, then you probably need to do something similar to find what you’re looking for.

Where Can You Find Fingerprints

A fingerprint can be on almost any solid surface. Realistically, most things we touch can hold prints. Smooth, nonporous surfaces like polished metal and plastics are the most obvious examples. However, cloth, paper, and even human skin can also hold fingerprints.

It may surprise you to learn that you can leave a fingerprint on a surface even through a latex glove. The thin material that makes it so easy to use your hands will keep DNA inside, but they may also leave telltale prints behind. CSI’s are starting to avoid using latex gloves for just this reason. Instead, they’re opting for nitrile or other alternatives.

How Long Do Prints Stick Around

Assuming that no one tried to remove a print and that it hasn’t been wet, or in the sun, then fingerprints can last a very long time. Fingerprints have been developed as much as four decades after someone left them. Porous surfaces, like paper, seem to hold prints the longest, although a smooth surface won’t lose a fingerprint anytime soon.

How to See Fingerprints on a Keypad

Using messy powder on surfaces and then lifting the prints with tape has been a standard method for collecting fingerprints for years. However, there’s a more dynamic and easy to photograph way that works better.

The benefit of fluorescing a print makes it well worth the extra effort. You don’t have to remove the fingerprint to see it. It’s easy to pick up a container of 1-0050 Fluorescing Powder from Amazon. Avoid any issues with old fashioned methods and take all the clear pictures you need. To check prices and availability, click here.

See Fingerprints on a Keypad

  1. Spray or dust the prints with a fluorescent compound. Doing this bonds the light-up powder or spray to the oils on the fingerprint so you can see it.
  2. Leave it to dry for about thirty seconds if you use a spray. Otherwise, dust off the excess gently.
  3. Illuminate those prints with a blacklight.
  4. Photograph your evidence without disturbing the prints. This means the evidence of tampering is still there in case you need it later.

It may seem overly simple, but that’s the beauty of fingerprinting. You don’t need a million materials, nor do you have to spend a fortune to DIY a visible fingerprint on a keypad. If you follow these simple steps, you’ll be looking at the evidence in no time.

An excellent blacklight is useful for a lot more than fingerprint detection. You can use it to spot sperm stains from a cheating spouse as well. Hopefully, you won’t need it for that purpose, but it’s good to know. I use the LIGHTFE Blacklight Flashlight. I like the portability of bein. You can find out more about it when you click here.

Compare and Contrast

Everyone has their own unique set of fingerprints. Like snowflakes, no two are ever exactly alike. When I had you take your prints earlier, it was to avoid confusion. When you touch a keypad, it leaves impressions as well.

Take out your fingerprints and your photographs of the fluorescent prints from the keypad. Now is the time that a magnifying lamp will come in handy. You need to examine the two sets and make sure that you’re not looking at your own prints.

Alternate Methods For Seeing Fingerprints

The traditional method for fingerprinting is one we’ve all seen. A fine powder goes over potential fingerprints. The brushes look a lot like those used to apply makeup, and in fact, you can use a soft makeup brush to do this yourself.

While you might expect the powder to be some special scientific formula, it’s not. There are simple at-home solutions in your kitchen and bathroom. Baby powder can work well for making a fingerprint appear. However, a white powder can be difficult to see depending on the surface.

In a pinch, you can try baby powder if your keypad is dark-colored. However, the numbers on black buttons are usually white, which can make it harder to see the print clearly. Alternately, the other home solution works better on light-colored keypads.

Powdered chocolate, the kind you use for baking, not the thicker kind with sugar inside it, will work as fingerprint dust. Keep in mind; a cocoa powder may attract bug since it’s a food. This is best if you don’t mind wiping off the keys when you finish.

Sadly neither of these methods is as accurate or easy to photograph as the fluorescent option.

MOF Printing

Most fingerprints leave a print made of oil, which makes it easy to dust. However, there are times when a mark is made up of just a residue of amino acids and other compounds. In those cases, regular powders don’t adhere very well. Fortunately, there’s a new way of fingerprinting

Using MOF (metal-organic framework) liquid and UV light from Amazon, scientists can see a print that would otherwise be invisible. This high tech solution is perfect for viewing difficult marks. The crystals in the liquid bond to the residue where an ordinary powder couldn’t pick up a fingerprint.

Once the liquid dries, a regular UV light will make the print fluoresce similar to the DIY method I gave you to use at home. The downside is that MOF liquid is difficult to procure. Mostly it’s used for scientific experimentation.

Collecting Fingerprints

When you’re not worried about leaving the print in place, then you can lift it instead. All you need is some dust and a piece of clear tape. I suggest clear packing tape. It’s larger and easier to work with.

All you need to do is apply the powder. Once you can see the print clearly, take some tape. It’s alright to use a larger piece, so you have a good grip. Remember that you can’t re-set the tape, and it’s essential to get the print the first time.

Take your time and place the tape over your powder. The home fingerprint powder should stick cleanly to the tape, allowing you to lift the print right off the keypad literally. You now have one lifted fingerprint. I suggest attaching it to a contrasting background. If you used a white powder, put the tape on some black paper to see it more clearly.

Final Thoughts

Viewing fingerprints is simple. You can do it at home, or anywhere with just a few materials. It’s always best to check rather than worrying whether someone has been getting into your keypad-locked safes or other private areas.

You can use these simple methods to collect prints at work as well. If you own a business and you’re concerned about old employees breaking in, or after hours shenanigans, any of these methods can help you learn the truth.

There’s no big mystery to seeing fingerprints. Even when they aren’t visually identifiable at first, you can get a good look using the steps I’ve outlined here.

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