FBI bottling scents to sniff out crime

Unit vacuums the odor onto sterile scent pads

Updated: Wednesday, 23 Sep 2009, 9:38 AM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 23 Sep 2009, 9:37 AM EDT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - It's a new crime fighting device that definitely passes the smell test.

The FBI is using new technology at crime scenes that can literally bottle up a person's distinct odor.

The STU 100 Portable Vacuum Collection Unit has been in service in FBI offices for the past two years.

The unit collects scents "in such a way that can store that scent for later use," FBI Special Agent Darrin Jones told KRQE News 13.

The FBI used the unit to collect the odor of Joseph Burgess, better known as "the Cookie Bandit," who died in a shootout in the Jemez Mountains that also killed a Sandoval County sheriff's sergeant. According to the New Mexico Police Report on the shootout, the FBI had Burgess' clothing processed to maintain his distinctive scent.

The unit vacuums the odor onto sterile scent pads. The scent pads are then stored inside a sealed tube for later use.

The FBI said the advantage to the technology is collecting the odor without contaminating the evidence. The scent can be taken to search sites for K-9 units to track a missing person or suspect.

The scent can also be used in scent line-ups where a discriminating dog can pick someone out of a police line-up.

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