How science used a kiss on the hand to identify a thief

Illustration for article titled How science used a kiss on the hand to identify a thief

Sometimes living in a terrifying world where you can be tracked by your DNA across time and the boundaries of countries is very, very cool. What does it take to adopt this view? A little old-word courtesy. Hear the tale of the greatest DNA identification ever made, thanks to a kiss on a woman's hand.


A woman driving down the road near Gr├╝nstadt, Germany, saw a man by the side of the road. Apparently never having heard a single urban legend in her life, she pulled over, but all he wanted was directions to a nearby town. He unfolded a map and spread it over the side of the car, and as she pointed out the way for him to go, he reached down to her purse - which he had covered with the map - and pulled out her wallet. Before she left, he kissed her hand to thank her, leaving her walletless, but with the mildest possible cautionary tale.

It wasn't long until she noticed that her wallet was missing. She couldn't give enough details to identify him. Then she remembered the hand kiss. Apparently it was sloppier than a proper hand kiss should be, because when the police swabbed the back of her hand they found saliva and DNA.

Three years later, they identified the guy. Across the border, in Austria, he was briefly arrested for fraud and had his identifying details recorded. (Apparently he did not pull a Jean Valjean style turnaround.) Although he fled custody, so neither country could physically arrest him, there's doubt as to how long he can remain on the lam. Especially if he keeps kising hands. So be aware, thieves. You can be a thief. You can be a dashing hand kisser. But you cannot be both. You're going to have to choose.

I'm guessing that you're probably going to choose "thief."

Top Image: Shahram Sharif

Via Spiegel Online.



And THAT is why the lips don't actually touch the hand during a proper hand-kiss. To avoid DNA identification.

Among other things, I guess.