Houston police have stopped using Whataburger tents as crime scene markers

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Houston police have stopped using Whataburger tents as crime scene markers

It seems like the tiny plastic table tents from Whataburger would make the perfect evidence marker at a crime scene, right? They look just like the ones you see on “CSI” or “Law and Order,” plus they’re bright-colored and numbered, just like those bright yellow ones you’ve seen on TV. That’s probably why the Houston Police Department decided it was a good idea to use them as such, but according to the Houston Chronicle, that practice is coming to an end.

Part of the problem lay in the fact that there was speculation that Whataburger was sponsoring the department or that it was endorsing the fast food restaurant, according to HPD spokesperson Jodi Silva.

Silva cited a murder that occurred earlier this year nearby a Houston Whataburger restaurant. Usually, she told the Chronicle, police had to wait for help from the Houston Forensic Center to set out evidence markers, but since police don’t want any evidence to be compromised on the scene, they often use whatever’s handy -- and sometimes, those handy items are Whataburger table tents. But after people were asking about a Whataburger sponsorship, “we took action immediately to let the people on the scene know not to do that again,” Silva said.

Silva told the Chronicle it seemed to be a one-time-only occurrence, and the “ban” on Whataburger tents extends to other branded items that may be handy nearby (say, a Starbucks cup) -- but the other reason behind the decision is to not waste valuable Whataburger resources. After all, the Wall Street Journal reported last month that Whataburger restaurants are constantly ordering new table tents, because it’s practically a rite of passage in Texas to steal your favorite number from your local fast food joint.

Don’t worry, though -- Silva says HPD didn’t steal the tents they used at the crime scene.

On Aug. 8, 1950, Harmon Dobson opened up the world’s first Whataburger in Corpus Christi. www.austin360.com

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