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Fingerprint Database

I worked in St Kitts, West Indies for about three years back around 2010. My wife and I rented a nice place in a nice neighborhood where we only got robbed twice during our time there. Once was when we were on vacation, and they didn’t really get much because we had everything of stealing value with us when we traveled.

The second time we were not only not off island, but we were not even out of the house. We were sound asleep in our bed, counting down the last few days on the island before heading back to the USA. We had been out for the night, celebrating the end of the project with the crew that I had worked with for over three years. Around eleven, we came home and went to bed. Around two a.m., my wife got up to get a drink of water, and when she reached the top of the stairs she thought it felt awfully warm in the house. When she turned on the lights and walked down the steps, she heard someone running out the front door that was left wide open. And that’s how close she came to walking into a room to meet a thief who was likely carrying a machete. It was typically the weapon of choice by home invaders and robbers back then.

She ran back upstairs and woke me up. I ran downstairs and they were gone. Then I checked outside and ran and banged on the neighbor’s door. I mean, like I was almost kicking it in. I yelled and banged and yelled some more. My phones were stolen and to call the police, someone was going to have to get out of bed and loan me their phone. I ran to another house and banged and yelled. And then to another and another. Apparently, I lived in a neighborhood of heavy sleepers because it took ten minutes to roust anyone from dreamland. Eventually, one of them came to the door and called the police and that’s when things got a little funnier.


If memory serves me right, first the police wouldn’t answer the phone. One of the locals explained to me that it wasn’t unusual for the emergency calls to go unanswered in the middle of the night. Apparently the Kittitian police preferred daytime emergencies opposed to having them in the dark of night. Then I had to drive to the police station in the middle of the night to get them to come out to investigate the crime. It took them another hour to make the five-minute drive to my house. Once they arrived, we answered a few questions, and they assured me that our phones had already been taken apart and tossed somewhere in the woods and we would also never see our laptops again.

Then they started dusting for fingerprints. And when I say dusted, they dusted just about every inch of the downstairs of my house, except for the ceiling. If they had a ladder I’m pretty sure they would have dusted the ceiling, too.

For those of you who have not experienced a place that has been dusted for prints, well, let me just say that it left a black, smudgy film everywhere that they dusted. On the woodwork, on the doors, on the coffee table and light stands. On the counters and windows and appliances and, and, and. Finally, when I had had enough, I asked a seemingly pertinent question.

“So, do you have a database or something to run these prints through?”

“No,” a stocky female officer answered, while she continued to spread black dust throughout every square inch of our house.

“So what do you do with the prints that you find?”

“Put them in a file,” she answered, as if that would somehow comfort me.

“You’re making my entire house filthy just so you can put some prints into a file and they’ll never be compared to any possible suspects prints?”

“Part of the investigation,” she answered and continued to dip her brush in black powder and paint any remaining undusted spots that she could find. Her answer sounded very official. Almost enough to convince me that there was some sort of point in us staying up for the rest of the night while they played cops and robbers and acted like they were from CSI.

“You know what? I think we’re good. You can probably stop now,” I said, indicating that they should probably leave.

“Okay,” was all she said, and they packed up and left. That was the end of the entire investigation. We never saw our phones and laptops or money again and we never heard from the police again. I have no idea if St Kitts has a fingerprint database in 2023, or not. If they do, they should run the prints that they found in my house through the system. They’ll just need to dig through the files to find them. Somebody still owes me about $3000 US. Plus, it would be a shame to let all that dusting go to waste.


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