Rogers County Sheriff's Office Busts Burglars With DNA Testing

Monday, April 25th 2011, 5:55 pm
By: News On 6

Lori Fullbright, News On 6

CLAREMORE, Oklahoma -- For the first time, the Rogers County Sheriff's department has used DNA to solve a property crime. It was a burglary at a business and the suspect bled on one of the items he was trying to steal.

DNA used to be reserved for solving rapes and murders, but more and more, we're seeing it used to solve crimes like burglaries.

Hazel and Darryl Ward own the Nut House just South of Claremore. They sell homemade goodies and unique gift items. But, one day about 3 a.m. someone broke the glass on the back door, stole a computer monitor and grabbed a cash register.

"We have dead bolt locks on all the doors," said Darryl Ward, burglary victim. "He had to crawl through it and he spilled his change outside and threw the cash register in the center median."

When deputies found that register in the median, they discovered the burglar had left behind some very important evidence.

"It was pretty bloody, so we got scrapings off it," said Rogers County Deputy Joe Garber.

He sent it to the OSBI hoping to get a match from the DNA database, but not really counting on it. A couple of months later, he caught a break.

"I got a phone call from the OSBI and they said ‘want to let you know we got a match.'" Garber said.

They told him there was a 1 in a 33 trillion chance that the blood belonged to someone other than Steven Sander, who was already in prison for other crimes.

Deputy Garber got a warrant, got a DNA sample from Stevens and tested it again and again, it matched. Then he learned something else that sealed the deal.

"The same day the burglary occurred here, he pawned a computer monitor in Tulsa," he said.

Darryl is just glad the guy has now been charged, but it doesn't really help Darryl's bottom line.

"He ought to pay the price. The chance of me getting restitution for the money I'm out isn't going to happen," Darryl said.

Another burglary in that area has now been solved with DNA also, that burglar was spitting tobacco on the floors of the places he broke into.

Police say it's worth the expense because burglars often commit many crimes. So, stopping them saves everyone a lot of trouble.