Crime Scene Investigator Network

Crime Scene Investigator Network Newsletter

JULY 2021

Bullet Holes in Plastic-Composite Material

Jim Davidsaver


When investigating crimes involving gunshots and bullet holes, crime scene technicians must be cognizant of holes and defects in rubberized plastic-composite materials used in most new cars' bumpers, fascias and guard strips and investigate accordingly to determine if the damage was caused by a bullet. Accurate measurements of well-formed bullet holes are necessary to properly determine the angle of impact.


An argument in a crowded shopping center parking lot leads to an exchange of gunfire between two rivals that resulted in the death of one of the men. Witnesses at the scene provided conflicting accounts of the incident. Some said each man fired one shot at close range. Others reported hearing only one shot. The surviving participant claimed the victim fired at him first. Crime scene techs who processed the scene recovered and documented evidence accounting for the shot fired by the first man but cannot account for the shot fired by the second man, the victim of the homicide.


During a recent crime scene tech training session on shooting incident reconstruction, an interesting facet of bullet holes in the plastic-composite door guard strip on the car door panels used for the training session was noticed. In preparation for the training, instructors fired several bullets at different angles, known and unknown, at car door panels. After classroom lecture and exercises, the crime scene tech "students" examined the holes in the door panels to determine the trajectory and angle of impact of the fired bullets.

The door panels used during the training session were scrap parts from old, accident-damaged Lincoln police cruisers. The panels were equipped with rubber-plastic composite bumper guard strips. These strips run the length of the door panel just under the "LINCOL" decal.

While these bumper guards were not the specific intended targets of the test-fired bullets, a few of the shots struck and penetrated these plastic-composite strips. In examining this damage more closely, several techs noted the entrance "wounds" in the plastic material appeared markedly different than the bullet strikes in the metal door panel. The elasticity of the plastic material did not leave what would be considered a characteristic bullet hole.

To determine the approximate angle of impact and trajectory, the crime scene techs used the trigonometric relationship of the width and the length of the bullet hole.

< read the complete article and view example photographs >

Related Content

Shirts by
25% OFF

With coupon code
"CLEARANCE" at checkout
Limited to styles and sizes on hand.
Orders are shipped to
USA addresses only.

This Month's Featured Resource on the Crime Scene Investigator Network Website

ATF Police Officer's Guide to Recovered Firearms

U.S. Department of Justice
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

This guide is designed for Police Officers and includes the following topics: Firearms Safety, Required Markings, How To Identify Firearms, Tips For Firearms Queries Using Mobile NCIC Terminals, Trace All Recovered Firearms, Persons Prohibited by Federal Law from Possessing Firearms,Questions to Ask Unlawful Firearms Possessors, and Visual Guide to Firearms.

<View the Guide>

Recommended Reading

    With coupon code "5off" at checkout
New CSI and Forensic Job Announcements

The most comprehensive listing of Crime Scene Investigation and Forensic
employment opportunities on the internet! We typically have over 150 current listings!

To be notified of job openings as they are posted, follow us on Twitter: Job Posting Alerts
or sign up for daily email alerts: Daily Job Posting Alert Emails

Crime Scene Investigator I
San Antonio Police Department, San Antonio, Texas, USA

Final Filing Date: July 29, 2021
Evaluates crime scene and ensures it is well protected. Photographs and videotapes crime scene. Searches crime scene thoroughly for physical evidence. Collects, marks, and preserves physical evidence and latent fingerprints. Prepares diagram of crime scene and other reports. Presents forensic evidence in official proceedings.
<View complete job listing>
Crime Scene Unit Technician
Odessa Police Department, Odessa, Texas, USA

Final Filing Date: August 12, 2021
Responds to crime scenes as directed, and assists OPD officers with investigations by processing the crime scene for evidence; collects and preserves crime scene and accident scene evidence to aid in the prosecution of criminals and crimes; performs work in compliance with state laws, City policies and OPD quality standards,
<View complete job listing>
Crime Scene Technician
Clayton County Police Department, Jonesboro, Georgia, USA

Final Filing Date: Open until filled
Process crime scenes through identifying, documenting, processing, collecting, analyzing, interpreting, maintaining chain of custody, and reporting evidence, and testifying in court the conclusive findings of that crime scene processing.
<View complete job listing>
Crime Lab Technician - Latent Prints
Seminole County Sheriff's Office, Sanford, Florida, USA

Final Filing Date: July 27, 2021
Perform the requirements of the training program which will include but is not limited to successful completion of background material, practical exercises, competency tests and mock trial. Once the first portion of the training has been completed, the Analyst will conduct independent analysis, comparison and evaluation of inked fingerprints...
<View complete job listing>

NIBIN Technician
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Final Filing Date: July 28, 2021
Physically moves firearms through processing (E-Trace, stolen check, etc.) within the IMPD Property Room. Enters evidence/test shot items into the NIBIN database. Responsible for maintaining the NIBIN equipment and supplies required for continues operation.
<View complete job listing>
Forensic Scientist 2 - Biology/DNA
Idaho State Police, Meridian, Idaho, USA

Final Filing Date: July 28, 2021
Conduct complex examinations of evidence and/or individual characteristic database samples. May optionally respond to crime scenes, clandestine laboratories, and autopsies to provide assistance, knowledge and expertise; this may include assistance with recognizing, documenting, and collecting evidence/samples.
<View complete job listing>
Property Room Specialist
Everett Police Department, Everett, Washington, USA

Final Filing Date: July 25, 2021
Responsible for safe storage of evidence or property and for ensuring that chain of evidence is clearly preserved whenever evidence or property is received or is removed from property room.
<View complete job listing>
Medical Examiner Investigator I
San Diego County Medical Examiner, San Diego, California, USA

Final Filing Date: July 23, 2021
Medical Examiner Investigator I is the entry level class of the series. Incumbents work under immediate supervision and undergo training to eventually perform investigative work independently. Medical Examiner Investigators are responsible for conducting investigations regarding the mode of death (e.g. accident, suicide, homicide, or natural causes).
<View complete job listing>

Search for more job listings in Crime Scene Investigations and Forensics
<Crime Scene Investigator Network Employment Listings>

To be notified of job openings as they are posted, follow us on Twitter: Job Posting Alerts
or sign up for daily email alerts: Daily Job Posting Alert Emails

Other Resources on the Crime Scene Investigator Network Website
Not Subscribed to this Newsletter?

If you are not subscribed to this newsletter, you may subscribe with this link: SUBSCRIBE via email
or on our website by clicking here: SUBSCRIBE on our website.

To Unsubscribe

To unsubscribe from future e-mail alerts, please click here: UNSUBSCRIBE
or email with your request to unsubscribe.

Copyright ©2021 Crime Scene Resources, Inc.

Crime Scene Investigator Network
PO Box 1043
Wildomar, CA 92595-1043