Sunday, 2 November 2008

It's 'CSI: Jerusalem' as scientist offers his expertise to public

Avner Rosengarten, who offers forensic testing to public, examines shirt at his Jerusalem lab (David Blumenfeld).

JERUSALEM - A top Israeli forensics expert has opened a cut-rate lab that brings CSI to the masses.

Suspicious about the red stain on your husband's collar? The designer perfume that just might be a fake? The boy who looks a little too much like the milkman?

Avner Rosengarten can help.

Rosengarten got the idea to go into private investigative work years ago when, while working in Israel's main police lab, a woman called and asked if he could ID traces of face powder on her husband's collar.

He refused, but when he retired he took out a loan and opened the Forensic Science Institute in July.

"Forensic science is identified with police work, but I believe it belongs to everybody," he said.

"I decided to take the knowledge I gained from my criminal work and apply it to everyday problems for industry, consumers and ordinary people."

"It's enormous fun," said Rosengarten, 54.

Rosengarten's Forensic Science Institute, a state-of-the-art lab in a nondescript Jerusalem back street, can also determine the authenticity of documents, run DNA tests and check whether products are authentic or imported fakes.

He was quickly inundated with clients looking to check out all sorts of things.

He was asked by one woman to check whether her wig was made of real hair. For $400 he was able to confirm it was. For about $300, he ran tests on a red stain on a shirt collar. He delivers all his results face to face, which can be hard if it means effectively telling a woman her marriage is about to end.

"She already had her suspicions. We just provided the evidence," he said. "Lipstick doesn't come off in the wash."

Based on his police experience, his laboratory is also able to test samples from cosmetics firms who believe their products are being ripped off to see if they are the real thing.

"We can tell immediately if a shampoo or soap is fake. The fakes always smell much better," he said.

Rosengarten worked for years as a scientist for the National Forensic Institute in Jerusalem - in other words, CSI Israel.

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