After burglars stole $1,500 worth of equipment and cash from two businesses in the 100 block of Bolinas Avenue in Fairfax back in March, the owners had little hope of seeing the thief caught.
But, six months later, the Fairfax Police Department is happy to call it a closed case with the help of some DNA evidence.
During the investigation of the burglaries on March 23, a partially-eaten lollipop stick was found on the scene, said police. Officer Robert Sutherland collected that stick, which was sent to the Department of Justice Crime Lab for analysis.
In June, police were notifed that the DNA was a match for an unidentified man. And in August, the DNA was matched through the FBI's Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) to a Fairfax resident, Jacob Mandel, who was at the time being held in Marin County jail on unrelated charges.
According to Police Chief Chris Morin, investigators conducted an interview with Mandel at the jail at that time. While he denied involvement in the burglary, said Morin, he made incriminating statements to the officers.
With the DNA evidence (which has a one in sextillion chance of making that match at random according to the Department of Justice), incriminating statements, and initial investigation, the Fairfax police were able to close the case and serve an arrest warrant for Mandel, 24.
Mandel is currently in custody in San Francisco County Jail on charges of carrying a firearm as a felon and recieving/buying stolen property. He will then be released to Marin County custody.
"I am very proud of the work that the officers did on this case, starting with the amazing insight on the part of Officer Sutherland to collect the lollipop stick, which resulted in the identification of a suspect in this case," said Morin.
This was, to the best of Morin's knowledge, the first time the Fairfax Police Department has used DNA evidence to solve a crime. DNA evidence takes time -- in this case, nearly six months to finish the investigation -- because it has to be processed at a lab and priority is given to violent or serious crimes.
Did you know the police department didn't regularly rely on DNA evidence? Are you surprised they were able to finally arrest a suspect in the case?