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LAPD Uses DNA to ID Car Burglary Suspects

June 30, 2009

LOS ANGELES --- Normally, DNA evidence is used to solve only violent crimes because of the expense involved. But LAPD detectives recently used DNA evidence to identify three suspects in downtown car burglaries, the L.A. Times reported.

One of the men is already in custody and police are still searching for the other two suspects.

"This was an unexpected windfall," said Police Lt. Paul Vernon, head of detectives at the Central Police Station. "Car burglars are among the hardest criminals to tie to crimes because few are ever seen, so to identify three from DNA like this is rare, but becoming more common."

In one case, blood found on a paper bag left by a car burglar in 2008 was collected. The blood was analyzed in a lab a year later and the DNA input into a state database. The DNA was a match for Clifford Sutherland, whose DNA was on file for an earlier arrest, police said. He is on probation for grand theft.

In another case, blood left on a car door handle was collected as DNA evidence and was a match for Victor Garcia of Los Angeles, police said. He allegedly smashed the window of a sports car parked downtown in 2007 and removed cash.

Sutherland and Garcia remain at large.

The third suspect, Ruben Vera, was arrested last week in connection with a February 2008 burglary in which a window was smashed and a stereo and CDs were stolen from a parked car. A lab analysis of blood collected from the broken glass led to a DNA match for Vera, police said.

A study completed last year showed that when investigators recovered usable DNA samples from property crime scenes, a suspect could be identified in 45 percent of the cases.





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