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Decipherment of an Obliterated Vehicle Identification Number

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 41 Issue: 1 Dated: (January 1996) Pages: 163-165
G J Srinivasan; G Thirunavukkarasu
Date Published
3 pages
This article describes how microscopical study was used to decipher an obliterated vehicle identification number.
Criminals sometimes cut away the portion of a vehicle where the chassis number was punched and substitute for it by welding in a tailor-made metal piece with the number of their choice. In the case examined here, the criminal affixed a small metal piece, after punching the numbers exactly over the chassis portion where the original number had been punched to conceal any evidence of tampering with the original number. If examination had been confined to only the punched surface of the chassis, unraveling the tampering with the original chassis number would not have been possible; chemical etching did not reveal any of the erased numbers on the chassis. Microscopical study disclosed evidence of deep filing and differences in size, clarity, and depth among the numbers. Further examination enabled researchers to decipher the erased numbers and establish the vehicle's true identity. The authors suggest that preliminary but essential studies such as visual, specular reflectance and microscopical studies should be exhausted before resorting to etching techniques. Figures, references