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Research in Brief: DNA and Property Crimes

NCJ Number
Police Chief Volume: 80 Dated: April 2013 Pages: 16-17
Date Published
April 2013
2 pages
This article reports on a NIJ-funded study that examined the cost-effectiveness of collecting and analyzing biological evidence for DNA in property crimes as well as violent crimes.
Historically, law enforcement agencies have believed that the cost of collecting and analyzing biological evidence for DNA in high-volume property crimes would be prohibitive; however, this policy is currently being challenged for two reasons. First, the cost of processing evidence for DNA analysis is declining; and second, research has shown that habitual property-crime offenders also typically engage in crimes against persons. In assessing the cost-effectiveness of collecting and analyzing DNA for property crimes, a NIJ-funded study conducted a five-city field study that evaluated the outcomes of analyzing biological evidence collected at the scenes of property crimes. The study determined that compared to property crime investigations that focused on fingerprints, those that included DNA analysis led to twice as many arrests and twice as many cases accepted by prosecutors for processing. Those property-crime offenders arrested based on DNA evidence had twice as many previous arrests, on average, and twice as many prior convictions compared to those arrested based on traditional investigations. Moreover, DNA was twice as effective in identifying suspects as were fingerprints. In cases that involved the collection of both fingerprints and biological evidence, analysts got twice as many matches using the FBI's Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) than in the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System. One of the most important lessons learned from this study is that a high level of collaboration among city police, county prosecutors, and county and State crime labs is required to produce desired results.

Date Published: April 1, 2013