DNA Increasingly Used to Solve Property Crimes

The use of DNA evidence by Jacksonville police and the Jacksonville State Attorney’s office, among other agencies, involves collecting biological material, analyzing the material, developing a profile and then attempting to compare it to profiles in state and/or federal databases where the DNA profiles of various people are stored. In the past, this process was expensive and lengthy and thereby reserved primarily for violent crimes such as murder and rape. However, the cost and time involved in DNA investigations and analyses have come down to the point that law enforcement officials are using DNA to solve property crimes such as burglary, theft and auto theft. Back in the late 1980’s, when DNA analysis was in its early stages, large DNA samples were required for them to be useful, and it was expensive and time consuming to complete the analysis and comparison. Today, the process can be done with much less of a sample and, in some cases, it can take several hours and less than $100. As a result, law enforcement officials are increasingly of the opinion that a criminal investigation involving DNA is feasible for certain property crimes, particularly when the FBI estimates that the cost of property crimes in the United States was approximately $17.6 billion in 2007.

Just about any biological material can be used as a DNA sample. For instance, if a burglar decides to take a bite out of some food at the house from which he/she is stealing, if a thief leaves skin cells in the car he/she stole or if a thief cuts him/herself on a broken window used to gain entry into a house or building, there could be DNA that could be used to tie that person to the scene of the crime. When police decide to conduct an investigation involving DNA collection and analysis, they are five times more likely to identify a suspect than with fingerprints alone.

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