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Today's free plot device

From today's New York Times:

Two suspects in a heist at Germany’s largest department store have been released because they are twins whose fingerprints and DNA are indistinguishable, a court said Wednesday. The authorities have said that in the heist, in the early hours of Jan. 25, at least three burglars stole jewelry and watches valued in the millions of dollars from the store, Kaufhaus des Westens, in Berlin. A glove found at the scene led investigators to conclude that at least one of the twins, who have been identified only as Abbas and Hassan O., 27, participated in the burglary. The authorities cannot tell which one, however, and said each twin could deny involvement and accuse his brother. The police are still searching for at least one accomplice, the authorities said. None of the valuables have been recovered.

I'm surprised to read that the twins' fingerprints were indistinguishable, since my understanding is those are unique even in people with identical DNA.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
mhaithaca
Mar. 19th, 2009 07:05 pm (UTC)
Generally, sure, but a fingerprint in a glove is likely to be a smudged and partial print, inadequate to unambiguously finger (no pun intended) which of two people with potentially similar prints was involved.
(Deleted comment)
matt_ruff
Mar. 19th, 2009 11:47 pm (UTC)
Very interesting stuff. I will have to keep this in mind for when I write my definitive which-identical-sibling-is-the-Ripper novel.
crowleycrow
Mar. 20th, 2009 12:11 am (UTC)
But what about symmetrical identical twins (e.g the Ashleys) -- are their fingerprints backwards in respect of each other? A plot twist? Maybe not.
(Deleted comment)
crowleycrow
Mar. 20th, 2009 03:32 pm (UTC)
Or maybe a fooler -- the right thumb of Twin A would match very well the left thumb of Twin B, and the similarity would never be noticed.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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