“This really enhances our ability to solve residential and commercial burglaries.” She noted that the United Kingdom has been able to solve 40 percent of its property crimes using DNA technology. And in Denver, where a similar program was launched, police used DNA to capture a suspect in a series of burglaries. The Valley’s pilot program – and five others taking place nationwide – are part of a study on the use of DNA evidence in solving property crimes. Since February 2006, the LAPD has collected 548 DNA samples from 233 burglary scenes. DNA evidence is a crucial issue in California, where state officials are working on a massive expansion of the genetic data bank. Four months after the apartment burglary in North Hollywood, police identified Bone using the DNA on the cigarette. He’d had to give a saliva swab while being booked into the Los Angeles County Jail for violating parole on an earlier robbery conviction, officials said. It was that DNA sample that provided the match. Limited resources Los Angeles residents reported about 20,000 burglaries in 2006, including 7,529 in the Valley. Police estimate they’ve closed 15 percent of last year’s burglary cases in the Valley, a smaller percentage than the closure rate for murders and rapes in which DNA evidence is regularly used. But with only 19 forensic analysts to analyze thousands of cases a year and a backlog of 380 DNA requests in violent crimes, officials say they’re able to take on the burglary cases only by using the grant to contract with outside analysts. A Sheriff Department’s official said that agency faces similar personnel shortages. Using DNA in all burglary cases would double the lab’s caseload, so the department has to limit DNA evidence to investigate only serial burglaries. “We do have limited resources. We apply them to more violent crimes and, prior to this study, nobody knew how effective using DNA on burglaries would be,” said Greg Matheson, director of the LAPD’s criminalist laboratory. “But I think we have shown there is some value.” Under the grant, the LAPD can send 1,000 DNA samples to Orchid Cellmark in Texas for processing. The samples are then returned and run through federal and state DNA banks for analysis at a cost of about $400 each. Specific markers There are 23 sets of chromosomes that carry the genetic markers that determine the makeup of every individual – from gender to brain size. The LAPD looks at 13 specific markers, which are run through the state and federal DNA systems. “If we take a swab from a bottle or a doorknob, we may have 100 cells bearing DNA,” said Harry Klann Jr., a criminalist at the LAPD lab. “We can perform hundreds of tests on the small amount of DNA.” Under Proposition 69, which voters approved in 2004, the DNA of all felony suspects will be collected and analyzed beginning in 2009. Samples from convicted felons and those arrested on suspicion of murder and rape are already being logged into the system. By 2008, the state expects to have more than 1 million DNA profiles in its databank. California has the country’s largest DNA bank, with more than 730,000 genetic profiles and a backlog of 130,000. It generated 261 matches in January alone. “As the data bank grows, our ability to solve all type of crimes where biological evidence can be found at the crime scene expands exponentially,” said Nathan Barankin, a spokesman for the California Attorney General’s Office. “We are seeing a huge increase in the number of database entries,” he said. firstname.lastname@example.org (818) 713-3741 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The burglar rifled through the North Hollywood apartment, taking a moment to smoke a hand-rolled cigarette before fleeing with a laptop computer, a video camera and some beer. With no witnesses and few other clues, police were hard-pressed to find the culprit. But the cigarette butt left on the kitchen counter gave them the break they needed, providing a source of DNA that led them to arrest suspect Daniel Bone, 32. “He should be called `Bonehead’ for leaving that cigarette butt,” prosecutor James Falco said. “Criminals are not the brightest of people. And DNA evidence is a powerful effective tool to identify and prosecute perpetrators of crime. The beauty of DNA is that you are talking about frequency levels like one in 3 trillion – that’s how powerful it is. “It eliminates everyone else in the world (as a suspect).” Best known for its ability to help identify suspects in murder and rape cases, DNA evidence is increasingly being used by law enforcement to solve burglaries. A $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice is providing the Los Angeles Police Department with the resources to analyze the saliva, blood and other body fluids that suspects leave at the scene of burglaries in the San Fernando Valley. Bone, who has pleaded not guilty and has another hearing scheduled this month in Van Nuys Superior Court, was the first burglary suspect in Los Angeles to be prosecuted based on DNA evidence. Nineteen others have since been identified. “It’s an important step for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles city and the LAPD to be using DNA banking in property crime,” said Lisa Kahn, forensic sciences adviser for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.