Swabbing Stolen Cars
Two cities are gauging the effectiveness of using DNA evidence to identify and apprehend car thieves.
Police in New York City and Dallas are participating in a pilot program to examine the effectiveness of using DNA to track and catch automobile thieves. New York Daily News reports that the program will have authorities collect DNA samples from a stolen vehicle right when it’s found, before officers or other personnel tamper with or move the vehicle. The samples will then be compared with genetic samples from various databases to, ideally, uncover the perpetrator’s identity and solve the crime. Dallas Morning News reports that the program is aimed at taking down auto theft rings, as opposed to just cars stolen for joyrides. After collecting and analyzing about 500 DNA samples, the cities’ crime-solving rates for auto thefts will be examined for improvements. Funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice, the program is based off the success of a 2008 study that found using DNA evidence proved effective in solving burglaries.