DNA evidence is increasingly being used to solve everyday property crimes across the U.S., reports the Associated Press. Once reserved mostly for violent cases such as rape and murder, genetic testing is much cheaper and faster than when the technology was new. “Regular watchers of CSI may be led to believe that this technology is already being used in this way, but it’s really brand-new,” said John Roman of the Urban Institute. “This really is the start of a revolution in policing.”
Evidence can include almost any biological material left at a crime scene: saliva from food, skin cells from the steering wheel of a stolen car, drops of blood from a thief who was cut on a window pane. By using DNA, authorities are five times more likely to identify a suspect than with fingerprints alone. DNA also doubles the number of suspects who are identified, arrested and prosecuted, according to a study funded by the National Institute of Justice. Analysis in some cases takes as little as 12 hours and costs only about $50. Police in New York City and Chicago use DNA testing routinely. Other agencies, such as the Los Angeles Police Department, still reserve it for the most serious crimes.