Sloppy thieves help make DNA evidence part of the routine

Crooks can be slobs. Kansas City police Officer Kevin Hulen knows this.

Burglars get beer and food out of refrigerators, quaff and chomp while they work, and leave cans, bottles or food remnants. Car thieves toss beer cans on floorboards. Intruders drop cigarette butts and cut themselves on glass.

Nowadays, such carelessness just might get them caught.

Part of Hulen's job is to gather DNA evidence at the scene of property crimes. Hulen is no CSI technician. He's just a regular cop who happens to be in the vanguard of a new trend in police work: using DNA to solve routine property crimes.

Compared to conventional techniques, DNA evidence in property crimes got twice as many suspects identified, arrested and accepted for prosecution, according to an Urban Institute study released this year. Police in Topeka; Denver; Los Angeles; Phoenix; and Orange County, Calif., participated in the research.

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