Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Play-Doh Fingerprint Evidence Points Police to Walmart Shoplifter

Caught red-fingered? With his hands in the Play-Doh jar? Any way you pun it, one man's cat burglar-like efforts to thwart anti-theft devices at a Leicester, Massachusetts Walmart backfired in a pretty impressive fashion, leading to his arrest.

The evidence he left behind? A solitary fingerprint in a piece of yellow and red Play-Doh.

"Yes, I Said, Play-Doh"

The first rule of Walmart Shoplifting Club? Wear gloves. Dennis Jackson either wasn't aware of the rule or ignored it when he tried to shoplift electronics from a Walmart by covering up anti-theft devices with wads of Play-Doh. As the Leicester Police Department's Facebook page described:


While a search of the Massachusetts state Automated Fingerprint Identification System came up empty, the fingerprint photo on the Facebook post garnered some attention. An employee at the Connecticut Forensics Laboratory saw the story in the Miami Herald and submitted the Play-Doh print to the national AFIS database, matching it to Mr. Jackson.

D'oh!

It turns out Mr. Jackson was well known to law enforcement, at least outside the state of Massachusetts. The Boston Globe reported that he was already in custody in the Worcester County House of Correction when the match came back on his fingerprints, he had outstanding warrants in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and there were a grand total of 129 entries on his Board of Probation record. Thanks to the Play-Doh evidence, social media, and an eagle-eyed robbery detective, Jackson is now facing four counts of unlawful removal of an anti-theft device.

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