Solving Property Crimes with DNA in the United Kingdom

The Police Science and Forensics Unit within the United Kingdom's Home Office has demonstrated success in using DNA to solve property crimes. Many of the Unit's findings indicate that property offenders do branch into other crime, including violent crime. In fact, findings from the U.K. indicate that a well-established DNA database can quadruple detection rates in some crimes, and nearly triple detection rates in domestic burglaries.

Serious offenders are often caught because they are picked up later for a relatively minor offense. For example, in 2001, British police arrested a shoplifter and took a DNA sample, which matched crime scene samples taken from a 1988 rape and indecent assault carried out on two minors. The offender pleaded guilty to the 1988 offenses and was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.

In a typical month, DNA matches will link suspects to 2,500 property, motor vehicle and drugs crimes; 15 murders; and 45 rape cases. More than 5 percent of the U.K. population is represented in the Home Office DNA Database, which contains profiles for arrestees and convicted persons and spans both serious and nonviolent offenses.

Date Reviewed: June 9, 2010