Arora confirmed that the 3D-printed replica fingerprints required more testing before they could be handed back to police to unlock the device—so it’s unclear yet whether the method works. The initial results, he says, “have been promising.”

“The hope is that information leading to the arrest of the perpetrator exists on the phone,” Rathbun said. “That won’t be known until we get into the phone, which we currently have not been able to do yet.”

Rathbun added: ”It’s pretty amazing that this capability is right down the street from my office. Here’s hoping it works!”

This may well be the first case of law enforcement using such technology as part of an ongoing investigation—though it harks back to the questions of privacy and security raised by the dispute between Apple and the FBI earlier this year, in which investigators demanded the company develop software to unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters.

Apple fiercely resisted the request, calling it an “overreach” by the US government. Investigators were eventually able to break into the device without Apple’s help.

Quartz has reached out to Samsung for comment.

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.