DNA laboratory 311.
(photo credit: iStockphoto)
A bloody towel that a Beersheba thief left behind over a year ago led to his
eventual arrest this week, police said on Tuesday.
DNA taken from the
towel was recently matched with the suspect’s DNA in the police’s central
database, leading to the arrest, Negev police spokesman Tamair Avtari
“Even if a long time passes after an offense, the police’s growing
technological abilities mean old crimes can now be solved,” he said.
investigation began in 2010, when a home burglary was reported to Beersheba
police. A crime scene investigator was sent to the apartment, in accordance with
standard procedure, to determine how the offense was committed and collect any
forensic evidence, such as fibers, fingerprints, footprints and DNA
CSI officer F.-Sgt. Shmuel Avraham deduced that the thief
injured himself during the break-in and used a towel to wipe off
The towel was taken to national police headquarters in Jerusalem
for DNA analysis.
The police recently compared the sample to the DNA of a
47-year-old Beersheba man suspected of breaking-and-entering, and a positive
match was identified.
The suspect was arrested and informed of the DNA
match during questioning by detectives.
He subsequently confessed to the
theft and police say he will be charged in the coming days.
His DNA was
added to the database at the end of 2011. “Our central database is growing all
the time,” Avtari noted.
Prof. Ariel Darvasi of the Hebrew University of
Jerusalem’s Department of Genetics is working on a groundbreaking technique that
will enable police to separate out multiple DNA remnants left by more than one
person at a crime scene.
“The size of the database is what’s
Sometimes a suspect [is entered into] the database after
committing a crime because of another incident,” he said. “It’s definitely a
good tool, and its use will only grow.”
Darvasi, who is currently working
with the largest forensic laboratory in the US, said the new technique offers
much promise, despite a growing public debate on privacy issues surrounding DNA
“There is a fear over privacy. I think it’s important to think
about the issue, but I’d be willing to sacrifice some privacy if it prevents a
murderer from wandering around freely and posing a threat to safety,” he
“No method is foolproof, but when you balance the advantages
[against] the danger, it’s definitely in our interest to have a DNA database,”