Anonymous April 1, 2021 10:50 AM

So, anyone think they used voice print matching? Like the copyright scanning system already in use for music? Could it be an audio sample uploaded to YouTube and they actively scan for matches? Or third party scans public YouTube videos for matching audio voice prints? Hum… Probably a faster and better match then tattoos and a face mask.

Jimbo April 1, 2021 11:05 AM

So now you get arrested for having tattoos that happen to match some criminals tattoos? While this might be the person wanted, tattoos can always be duplicated on anyone regardless how “distinct”. This seems very wrong to me, no better than a hair style being used to identify someone.

Who? April 1, 2021 11:26 AM

Perhaps this fugitive was… cooking meth?

@ Jimbo

I do not think he has been arrested for having matching tattoos on his arm. As I understand it, this finding pointed police to the suspect, so they did further research to avoid making a mistake. It would have been crazy the other way.

Antistone April 1, 2021 12:24 PM

Pro tip: If you are a fugitive, do not post videos of yourself to Youtube!

@Jimbo: You can’t get 100% certainty in the real world. Even DNA isn’t guaranteed unique. Demanding identification with 0 chance of mistake is equivalent to saying that we should never arrest anyone, ever.

If there are 10 people in the world that have your exact same tattoo, that tattoo is still pretty good evidence that you’re the guy they’re looking for. If they get one of the other 9 guys by mistake, then that guy can probably point out some other difference (height, age, etc.) or provide an alibi in order to clear up the mistake.

Yes, there is still a chance that an innocent person could be mistakenly convicted. The only way (in the long run) to have exactly zero false convictions is to also have exactly zero true convictions. EVERY legal system embodies some answer to the question “how many innocent people can we convict in order to catch the guilty?”, even if people don’t like talking about that.

JonKnowsNothing April 1, 2021 2:13 PM


It won’t be the first or last time tattoos have ID someone. During the many protests in the USA in summer of 2020, at least one person was ID by unique tattoo.

LEAs have departments that collect “gang tats” and other identifiers.

It’s not the only thing that is used, LEAs use additional information to zone in on a person, an interesting tattoo is just the opener.

The more tats you have, the less likely a wrong identification will be made. All those “sleeve tats” just need a set of cuffs to show them off better.

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Nameless Cow April 1, 2021 5:11 PM

That tattoos, as distinctive features of the body, can be used to identify a person is nothing surprising. The interesting question here is how the authorities identified his videos as worthy of attention.

Tatütata April 1, 2021 7:34 PM

Bertillon’s system of 1879 already had a section for a “relevé des marques particulières”, which included tattoos.

His system was translated and adopted in the US in the 1890s:

One popular method of criminal identification in England during the late 1800’s was the Tattoo Index. Since it was noted that many in the criminal profession were “addicted to tattoos,” it was deemed advisable to begin detailing their locations and appearance. These records were classified and placed in a central index for future retrieval.

Identifications were made through this index but, quite predictably, criminals soon developed the habit of periodically altering their tattoos…

The US translation of Bertillon’s book is available here:

wiredog April 2, 2021 5:00 AM

When I was in the Army we were told that the Special Forces would not accept any candidate who had any tattoos, because the tattoos could be used to identify them when they were being covert.

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