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Crime fighting has a new focus in Central Florida. Eyewitness News has been reporting the violent crime rate is down in the area.
However, property crimes, like car burglaries, are up.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) is using the same technology to solve burglaries as it uses to solve murders.
It’s called,” touch DNA.” When a criminal grabs the handle of car to break in, he often leaves behind skin cells that can be tested for DNA. Criminals who break into cars or homes often leave their DNA behind on clothes and drinks.”
They took all of my shifter knobs and stole the sub woofer out of the back,” said victim Kersey Pickels.
Pickels’ Jeep was parked in front of his Apopka home and was broken into Wednesday. Crooks stole expensive speakers, slashed his back window and ripped out the dash.
“It doesn’t make me happy,” he said.
By chance, a neighbor saw it happen and called deputies who arrested five teenagers for the crime. But it’s usually not that easy to recover stolen items.
According to new numbers released by the FDLE, $776 million worth of property was stolen in Florida in the last six months. Only $175 million worth of the property was recovered.
“Our case load is really increasing because of property crimes,” said Deputy Richard Negron.
Technicians say in the past, most of their DNA samples were from violent crimes. But with that down and local car break-ins up, that’s changed. They are now processing more burglaries and property crimes.
But Deputy Richard Negron says even when they catch the crooks and find stolen items, they are rarely returned to the owner.”
About 75 percent of the time the property we recover goes unaccounted for and it goes to the lack of inventory, not writing down serial numbers,” he explained.
Investigators say a serial number is often the only distinct feature on high-end electronics that can match the stolen item to its owner. So they say write them down or even photograph them.
The city’s Police Department recently added a second canine unit to its force.
The dog, which was purchased with forfeited drug funds, will assist officers with searching for narcotics and also will be able to track missing children and fleeing suspects, according to Richard Hoon, a spokesman for the city.
The department also received a grant from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to recertify its original canine unit with a new handler, Hoon said.
A Tampa police officer who rescued a woman in Old Tampa Bay and a Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputy who ended a man’s bloody rampage are among 15 people being honored today for heroism, the governor’s office said.
The Governor’s Medal of Heroism is being awarded this year to 10 law enforcement officers and one firefighter for actions in the line of duty. Gov. Charlie Crist is attended the 11 a.m. ceremony in Tallahassee.
Officer Ryan Jurjevich received the award for his rescue Jan. 28 of a woman clinging to a piling of the Howard Frankland Bridge. Deputy Malachi McCoy is being recognized for fatally shooting a man who killed three people and wounded two deputies during a rampage June 7.
Also honored today were four people with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, including two brothers assigned to the Tampa Bay Regional Operations Center. Special Agent Supervisor Bob Ura and Special Agent Paul Ura received that agency’s Medal of Valor for disarming a gunman who opened fire in a Las Vegas casino in June 2007, wounding four people.rothers were in Las Vegas at the time to attend a wedding, officials said. They borrowed handcuffs from a hotel security officer to detain the man until Las Vegas police arrived.