Downtown Car Burglars Made on DNA NR09304pv

June 29, 2009

Los Angeles:  Los Angeles detectives released the names and photographs of two wanted car burglars whose connections to separate crimes were made through DNA analysis.  Detectives arrested a third man last week whose DNA was matched in a third, unrelated case.

“This was an unexpected windfall,” said Lt. Paul Vernon, head of detectives for the Central Police Station.  “Car burglars are among the hardest criminals to tie to crimes because few are ever seen, so to identify three from DNA like this is rare, but becoming more common.”

Blood left on a door handle identified Victor Garcia, 28, of Los Angeles, as the car burglar who smashed the window and took cash from a man’s sports car, parked near 4th and Hill streets, August 2007.

In an unrelated case, blood found on a paper bag, left behind by a car burglar from March 2008, was collected and placed in the laboratory queue for analysis.  The blood was analyzed a year later and results uploaded in the state database, called CODIS.  In May 2009, CODIS notified detectives that the blood matched a Clifford Sutherland, 23, of Los Angeles.  His DNA was on file from a prior arrest, and he is currently on probation for grand theft.

On February 18, 2008, a woman parked her car on Jesse Street, west of Santa Fe Street.  Someone smashed her window and stole her stereo and favorite CDs.  The detective took the time to recover blood from among the broken glass.  The lab analyzed the blood last April and got a hit a month later.  Last week, detectives arrested Ruben Vera, 43, of Lincoln Park, for this crime.  He was on parole for burglary.

“We’re very pleased to see these matches return, even after one year,” Vernon said.  “Car burglaries are low priority compared to murders and sexual assaults, so those cases do and should take priority.  We’ll see more and more of these cases coming in as more criminals are entered into CODIS and DNA collection becomes more common place.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Central Area Detectives at 213-972-1241 during normal business hours.  After hours and on weekends, phone the 24-hour Detective Information Desk at 1-877-ASK-LAPD (529-3855).  Persons can also send anonymous tips by texting CRIMES (274637) and typing LAPD to start the message.

Photographs of Clifford Sutherland and Victor Garcia are available with this release.