After someone broke into a Lake County, Fl., real-estate office and stole two computers last year, investigators found the burglar’s calling card: a bloodstain, reports the Orlando Sentinel. A sample was entered into the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s DNA database. The database, the Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, came back with a match: Stacy Freeman, who was in jail on unrelated burglary charges. “It was pretty much CODIS that gave us the ability to arrest him on those charges,” Lake County Detective Billy Walls said.
Florida’s CODIS has linked more felons’ DNA samples to crime-scene evidence than any other comparable database in the nation, FBI statistics say. Of eight Florida regional labs, Orlando’s is the busiest, making 453 hits in the past fiscal year. High-profile rapes and murders that grab headlines when they’re solved by CODIS make up only a small percentage of the hits. From July 2007 through June 2008, 52 percent of the system’s 2,328 hits linked felons’ DNA to burglary scenes. Nineteen percent linked felons to sexual assaults, and 5 percent linked them to murders. Database officials say connecting felons to unsolved burglaries is important. Solving burglaries doesn’t just prevent future thefts; it prevents more serious crimes. “When we were trying to expand the database, when we were looking at the sexual-assault and murder hits, 60 percent of the guys had prior burglary convictions,” said Chris Carney, the state DNA database supervisor. “It’s kind of like the gateway crime — if you’re going to break into someone’s house, you’re just as likely to kill them.”