The staggering amount of police procedurals that have aired over the years means an insane number of narrative paths explored, often taking obvious liberties with how science works in order for the good guys to put the bad guys behind bars. Had I seen the following story on one of those shows, I would have scoffed and said, “Yeah, sure, ’cause that’s possible.” I’d like the egg on my face sunny side up, please.
Three years ago, in the German town of Grünstadt, a 32-year-old Romanian male flagged down a car and asked the female driver, for whom horror movies must play a very small role, for directions on how to get to the autobahn towards Austria. He leaned into the passenger seat and unfolded a map for her to use, slipping his hand beneath it and snatching the wallet from her purse lying on the seat, all in the face of the woman kind (and crazy) enough to help a fellow human in need. For her efforts, the thief was kind enough to give her a kiss on the hand before he backed up and she drove away. Boy, those Europeans sure are romantics.
But romance will often get your ass in trouble, and when the woman realized her wallet was missing, she immediately went to police, who swabbed the back of her hand and found it to be a DNA treasure trove.
Cut to Austria, three years later, in October 2012, when a man is arrested for fraud. After being photographed and fingerprinted, the man escaped custody. And wouldn’t you know it, DNA tests have confirmed it was the same guy who robbed the lady in Germany. Science!
Sadly, the non-TV aspect of this story is that the guy still hasn’t been caught yet, and he’s suspected to have fled the region not long after he was arrested, which should make catching him difficult unless he screws up again. But this isn’t a story about justice. It’s a cautionary tale that, even if you don’t kiss and tell, a DNA laboratory can still do the telling, and it’s saying you use way too much spit when you kiss.