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DNA Evidence Being Used To Track Down Suspect Accused In Several Smash and Grab Car Break-Ins

Reported: Mar. 24, 2014 10:08 AM EDT
Updated: Mar. 25, 2014 12:29 PM EDT

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Leslie Rubin) -- Police are using DNA to zero in on a suspect in a rash of car break-ins on Charleston's East End from this past weekend.

In a separate and unrelated investigation, they say they've solved a string of car break-ins dating back to Christmas.

"It just upsets me to no end," says Timothy Posten, who lives near where the latest car break-ins happened on the East End. Posten says keeping himself and his belongings safe on the East End has become a daily routine. Warning signs hang on his home and hear his car, hoping to send a message to potential thieves who may be lurking outside his door.

"Drugs are going to do us in. Totally, I mean they take everything out of you. All of your morality, your trust, your faith. They will steal from anyone to get anything and it's just terribly frightening to me," he says.

Shattered glass still lines the streets where police say 10 cars were broken into Saturday night in the 1400 and 1500 blocks of Virginia, Quarrier and Lee Streets.

Police say they are using DNA left behind to help solve the case. They also say they have a strong suspect. As they work toward an arrest in that investigation, police say they've solved a string of car break-ins plaguing the Louden Heights area of South Hills since December.

On Sunday, neighbors alerted police to a suspicious person. They sound they found a lot of the evidence they were looking for on that juvenile suspect.

"He was actually discovered to be with several bags full of stolen items," said Lt. Steve Cooper.

Jewelry, i-Pods, sunglasses, cameras, and GPS navigators were among some of the items police say the juvenile admitted to stealing from cars in South Hills. Police say most of those cars that were targeted were unlocked.

"In cases like these, the thieves are generally junkies," Cooper says.

Police say smash and grab thieves aren't criminal masterminds but just casual opportunists, and what they can't see won't tempt them.

Police urge you to lock your doors and roll up your windows. Keep all valuables locked out of sigh, or don't leave them in the car at all, if possible. You should also park in lit areas, near pedestrian and car traffic.

"They get a few dollars so that they can go get some heroin or some pills, and that's their daily routine. That's their job, is to steal from you, so lock your doors," Cooper says.

Metro 911 records indicate in the last year there have been 862 calls for service to report a car being broken into, equally to around two every single day.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Jeff Morris) – Charleston police said they have taken a juvenile into custody in connection with items that were stolen from vehicles that were broken into in the South Hills area.

The juvenile was taken into custody Sunday after the Patrol Division responded to a report about a suspicious person in the South Hill area, according to a news release from the Charleston Police Department. The juvenile was in possession of stolen items that were taken from vehicles that were broken into in the South Hill area.

After further investigation, police were able to locate several items that were linked to property stolen from vehicles over the past several months in this area. Police said they are in the process trying to locate the owners of the stolen property. Anyone who has information is asked to contact the Criminal Investigation Division at 304-348-6480.

Meanwhile, police said there were several vehicles broken into Saturday in the 1400 and 1500 blocks of Virginia Street East. They do not believe these vehicle break-ins are related to Sunday’s incidents. Based on the investigation, police said they have developed a suspect in these incidents. Police are working to try to track down the property stolen from the vehicles.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Criminal Investigation Division at 304-348-6480.

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