apron piece

Calling card (crime)

A calling card is a particular object sometimes left behind by a criminal at a scene of a crime, often as a way of taunting police or obliquely claiming responsibility. The name is derived from the cards that people used to show they had been to visit someone's house when the resident was absent.

Historical examples

Examples in fiction

  • In the 1963 movie The Pink Panther, the "Phantom" would leave behind a white glove with a monogrammed P on it after every successful theft.
  • In the 1990 film Home Alone, the "Wet Bandits" rob the houses of people on vacation, and then leave the water running. They return as the "Sticky Bandits" in Home Alone 2.
  • In the 2000 book Angels and Demons by Dan Brown, a Hassassin uses brands representing the four classical elements as calling cards in a series of ritualistic murders related to each element (e.g. fire for one victim who had been burned to death.)
  • In DC Comics, Batman's enemies often leave calling cards. In particular, his arch-enemy, The Joker, uses two types of calling cards, one is a simple joker card from a deck of playing cards, which was used in the end of the film Batman Begins. The other is by far more sinister - Joker Venom, which causes death while laughing madly and applies a permanent, ear-to-ear, grin.
  • In the 2004 movie Saw the killer, Jigsaw, cuts a jigsaw piece out of the flesh of the victim, symbolizing the piece that the person was missing.
  • In the 2004 movie Ocean's Twelve, the "Night Fox" leaves behind an onyx fox at every robbery.
  • In a 2007 episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent a murder victim is found with the ace of hearts left on the body. It is later revealed that the killer did this as an homage to his grandfather, a 1950s-era gangster who would leave the ace at all his crime scenes.
  • In the first couple of books in The Executioner (book series), the main character, Mack Bolan, would leave behind a marksman's medal on or near his victims.

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