Reports on How Police from Louisiana to California Use DNA Evidence to Bust Burglars

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They’re coming in from all across the US: more reports on how police are using DNA matching to solve crimes and put the bad guys away – and in some cases, keeping the bad guys in jail who were already serving time when their DNA was matched to other unsolved crimes. The law enforcement community is clearly getting more comfortable with the matching technology, and is using it to advantage to make us all safer.

Evolving Technology

It’s no secret that home security technology has evolved: just look at all the interactive monitoring and home automation services available from companies like FrontPoint. So we’re happy to see that law enforcement techniques are also showing progress, including methods that police use to link criminals to the crimes they commit. The best approach when it comes to residential crime is still to deter, delay, and detect the intruder, but burglaries do happen – about once every 14 seconds in the US. And when intruders strike, it’s good to know that technological advancements like DNA matching can help police bring the criminals to justice. Several recent articles clearly demonstrate this point, stating with this one, from Metarie, Louisiana.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives used DNA to track down the suspect in a pair of Metarie burglaries, including a May break-in at a home where a couple and their young children were fast asleep. Genetic material left behind at both crime scenes led investigators to identify the suspect as Mark Loga, of Metairie, according to arrest reports. Loga is accused of looting the home of a Waverly Place family on May 10, arrest and incident reports said. The residents woke to find that someone had broken into their house through a kitchen window and stolen almost $10,000 worth of electronic equipment, including televisions, cameras, video games and computers, an incident report said. The thief also made off with their 2009 Toyota 4Runner.

How Police Caught Him

Investigators found the SUV five days later and retrieved a useable DNA sample on the vehicle’s gear shift, the arrest report said. Once Loga was identified, he was taken to the Sheriff’s Office investigations bureau in Harvey Monday for questioning. Loga allegedly admitted to the break-in, telling authorities he sold most of the property for drugs, the arrest report said. Loga allegedly targeted the house after simply walking by. Sheriff’s Office detectives also used DNA to link Loga to a second burglary, an Old Metairie break-in in February 2010. The victim in that case told returned home to his Orpheum Avenue residence and discovered that someone had stolen a pistol and other property.

Utah Burglar Already Behind Bars When DNA Matched

This story is from Cottonwood Heights, Utah, a southern suburb of Salt Lake City. In this case, there was a young girl who will now rest a lot easier, knowing that the burglar she confronted in her home is doing a longer stint in the slammer.

A man behind bars for a Cottonwood Heights burglary was linked to another alleged burglary in Sandy that happened a week later. In May, police say an armed man broke into a Sandy home and was confronted by an 11-year-old girl who lived there. The girl ran to a neighbor’s house and the suspect got away, but left investigators a clue that helped them identify him. “We found a bandana at the back door, the sliding door to the home. Where the individual had gone in and out of the house,” said Sandy Police Sgt. Jon Arnold.

The girl’s description of the intruder led police to suspect 26-year-old Daniel Bonito, a suspect in another armed burglary nearby. This week, detectives used that bandana to confirm their suspicion. “We had sent the bandana off to the state crime lab to have DNA tested and that DNA came back and confirmed that Daniel Bonito was the individual at that residence who left that bandana,” Arnold said. Bonito is already in jail for violating parole; he was arrested by police not long after the two burglaries. Now he faces new charges of aggravated burglary and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Even though Bonito is already behind bars, police say they’re glad to solve the crime for the 11-year-old girl. “Exercising patience, and going through the process, to make sure this individual won’t be doing this to other homes, and other children,” Arnold said.

Another Repeat Offender

And here is one more article, from Marin County, California.

A blood sample from a 20-year-old San Rafael man — already serving jail time for robbery — has been matched to a bloody piece of broken glass located earlier this year at a burglarized Santa Venetia home. Brandon Melvin Spencer was re-booked Wednesday into the Marin County Jail on suspicion of residential burglary, according to the Marin County Sheriff’s Office. He is currently serving a three-year jail sentence for the April 2012 armed robbery of the Going Green Marijuana Dispensary in Santa Venetia.

While Spencer was in custody for the robbery, the sheriff’s office received a report in October 2012 from the state Department of Justice DNA lab connecting Spencer to another April incident — this time a burglary of a home on Vendola Drive in Santa Venetia. The lab ran a DNA sample taken from a broken piece of glass through the state database. It listed Spencer as a potential match, the sheriff’s office said. In December 2012, the sheriff’s office obtained a search warrant to collect a blood sample from Spencer. That sample was sent to the state Department of Justice for comparison with the blood sample from the burglary.  The Department of Justice notified the sheriff’s office this month that the two samples match, authorities said.

The Science is Getting Better

I’ve posted on other DNA-related burglary busts, where the DNA evidence may involve blood left at the crime scene, possibly from breaking a window to gain entry. Numerous open investigations have been solved using DNA matching: at the same time, this technology has been used to exonerate convicted criminals. Here’s some great information on DNA matching and criminal evidence, if you’re interested.

Of course, FrontPoint wants to prevent the burglar from getting into your home in the first place – or to scare him away if he does. Remember: it’s been shown that a home without a monitored alarm system is three times more likely to experience a break-in than the monitored home next door. That’s a compelling statistic, even without all the remote control and notification features available from an advanced system. As the leader in interactive, wireless home security, FrontPoint offers the best in systems that are safer, smarter, simpler, and more affordable – and virtually impossible to defeat. That’s why we’re the #1 ranked alarm company in the US. When it comes to burglars, FrontPoint is more than a match for burglars – and you can feel protected.

Comments (4)

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  1. Alan

    Very interesting post. The more widespread this info becomes and the better the techniques developed for DNA collection and analysis, the more deterrent factor there will be for burglars and the like. Granted, it will always be cat and mouse, but this ratchets up the cost and complication for burglars trying to outsmart these technologies and techniques.

    And as a side note, I liked your “deter, delay, detect” security mantra reminder. Had almost forgot (explicitly at least) about this old security basic phrase. That pretty well sums up the whole strategy in a nutshell, and the better one is able to implement these three principles, the safer one will be.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Yes, Alan, it all starts with deterrence. In a perfect world we would not need lam systems for intrusion – but we would still need them for fire, CO, water, low temp, and all the cool interactive features!

  2. Alan

    Very interesting post. The more widespread this info becomes and the better the techniques developed for DNA collection and analysis, the more deterrent factor there will be for burglars and the like. Granted, it will always be cat and mouse, but this ratchets up the cost and complication for burglars trying to outsmart these technologies and techniques.

    And as a side note, I liked your “deter, delay, detect” security mantra reminder. Had almost forgot (explicitly at least) about this old security basic phrase. That pretty well sums up the whole strategy in a nutshell, and the better one is able to implement these three principles, the safer one will be.

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Yes, Alan, it all starts with deterrence. In a perfect world we would not need lam systems for intrusion – but we would still need them for fire, CO, water, low temp, and all the cool interactive features!

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