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Police: DNA from cigarette butt leads to Decatur car burglary suspect

Police: DNA from cigarette butt leads to Decatur car burglary suspect

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DECATUR — Police say DNA evidence from a cigarette butt helped identify a 55-year-old man accused of breaking into a vehicle on the city's west side. 

The burglary was reported in September 2018 from a truck that had been parked in the 1200 block of North Fairview Avenue, according to a sworn police affidavit. The unlocked vehicle was discovered with the driver's side door ajar, and about $5 in loose change was missing from the console.

The truck's owner does not smoke but a cigarette butt was found inside, so police sent it to the Illinois State Police crime lab for analysis, the affidavit said. The vehicle owner also gave police surveillance footage that showed a man committing the burglary. 

Between Aug. 28 and 29, the state police lab issued reports identifying two DNA profiles associated with the cigarette butt: a "minor" profile that matched a woman and a "major" profile that matched the 55-year-old suspect, the affidavit said.

The woman was interviewed and told police that her vehicle, located near the victim's truck, had also been entered during the summer of 2018, along with other residents' vehicles. She said items taken included partially smoked cigarettes, loose change and phone chargers. 

"It was surmised that a cigarette partially smoked by this woman was taken from her vehicle, smoked, and left in the victim vehicle in this case," the affidavit said. 

Police reviewed the surveillance footage again and determined that it showed the suspect, who was already in Macon County Jail on other pending charges. He faces a preliminary charge of burglary in this case; preliminary charges are reviewed by the Macon County State's Attorney's office. His bond is set at $3,000. 

Contact Allison Petty at (217) 421-6986. Follow her on Twitter: @allison0512

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