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Paint is found on the surface of many things.  It is used mainly to protect the material it is placed on and for decorative purposes.  Paint formulations are specific for what the paint will be used for.  There are automotive paints, architectural paints, tool paints, bike paints, cosmetic paint (fingernail polish), boat paints, etc.  Through examination of paint obtained at the scene of a crime a link could be made between people, places, and/or objects.  The examination of paint usually involves the comparison of paint from the crime scene with a sample of paint that has been taken from a known source.

Here are some cases where paint examinations maybe usefulPaint Sample:



  • Hit and Run- Paint from the victim’s clothing and paint from the suspect’s car.
  • Burglary- Paint from the pried door and paint from a crowbar found in the suspect’s car.
  • Assault- Splintered wood with paint left at the scene and the bat found in the suspect’s home.






The paint from the scenes is both chemically and physically compared to the known source of paint to see if they are similar.  This is done using chemical tests, microscopes, and other instruments.

The trace evidence section also has the ability to examine automotive paint left at a crime scene and potentially develop a list of cars in which the paint could have come from.  This is done through a database called PDQ (Paint Data Query).