MESA, AZ (3TV, CBS 5) - The forensic sciences lab at the Mesa Police Department has become the go-to resource in that city's fight against burglars, vandals and other criminals whose crimes so often used to go unpunished.
Now, thanks to the modern crime-fighting tool of DNA analysis, more people responsible for property crimes are finding themselves behind bars.
"I think it’s huge. I think it’s a major tool in solving those cases," said Krista Placko, the forensic scientist supervisor at the Mesa Police crime lab.
Placko says her department has used DNA to solve property crimes since the mid-1990's. But in 2015, Mesa eliminated its DNA backlog, which means that as soon as a new sample comes in the door, it gets processed.
"It means we'll get to those cases faster. They’re not waiting in a cue somewhere," said Placko.
Mesa Police point to a pair of recent cases, as examples of how DNA analysis can lead to arrests when there are no other leads.
One was a residential burglary last August with no witnesses or security cameras. The burglar left behind a pair of gloves at the crime scene. DNA recovered from those gloves matched David Macias. He was arrested and charged in the case.
The second case involved a break-in at a non-profit organization. Police found burglary tools at the scene, and DNA recovered from those tools led them to Jesus Flores. He was charged in the case.
Placko believes that as more departments eliminate their backlogs, more of them will focus their effort on using DNA to solve property crimes.
"Hopefully it’ll result in reduced crime, because we'll be able to catch people when they’ve committed just one or two crimes and they’ll go through the justice system and be off the streets," said Placko.