Crime Scene Forensics – Telling the Difference Between Primary and Secondary Crime Scenes


At the scene of a crime, criminal investigator may note that there is more to it than what they see at the time of their arrival. In fact, there may be two or more crime scenes that exist. All of this is dependent upon how and where the offense was committed. Such scenes are classified as either primary or secondary. The primary crime scene is the place where the actual offense took place. A secondary crime scene is the place in some way, shape, or form, that is related to the offense but is not the place where the offense occurred.

In a jewelry store heist, for instance, the store is the primary scene, whereas the thieves’ getaway car and apartment are the secondary scenes. In a murder, the home of the victim who was stabbed or shot by the offender is the primary crime scene. If the perpetrator used the victim’s van to transport the body and dump it into a nearby lake, the van and the point at the lake where the victim was dumped would be considered the secondary crime scenes.

In general, primary scenes hold more usable clues than do secondary scenes but not always. Sometimes, the only crime scene that CSI’s have to go on is the secondary scene-the place on the lake where the perpetrator dumped the victim’s body. Under such circumstances, forensic investigators may not know the primary scene where the killing occurred and therefore use the clues found at the secondary scenes to help them establish the identity of the offender or locate the primary crime scene. They may also use to their advantage fibers from an expensive tailored suit they found on the victim to identify the manufacturer, the vendor, and ultimately a list of buyers or places where that particular suit has been sold. Doing so can shorten the focus of the investigation and lead authorities to the primary crime scene and bring the offender to justice.

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