Buy Photo

Jenn Ireland / The Californian

Kern County District Attorney Ed Jagels explains how the newly expanded forensic science program is being used to help solve local cold cases, during a press conference Tuesday morning in the trace evidence room inside the Crime Lab at the Kern County District Attorney's Office.

If you discard a saliva-laced cigarette at a house burglary, or you cut yourself trying to break into a car, your DNA might come back to haunt you in Kern County.

District Attorney Ed Jagels said the DNA technology which has long been used in violent crimes will now be used in property crimes.

It hasn't been used locally because the backlog on the higher priority murders, assaults and rapes has been so great, Jagels said.

"That backlog has been liquidated," Jagels said.

While A violent crime case would still take precedence, burglaries and car thefts will be squeezed in when blood or saliva is there for the taking, he said.

In just a couple weeks, the crime lab has identified three suspects in two house burglaries and one car break in, Jagels said.

The lab expects to add a couple property crime cases a week to its "cold hit" program -- cases which would likely go unsolved unless some spit, blood or semen points to the perpetrator, forensics supervisor Brenda Smith said.

Jagels said he has high hopes of great success in the new property crime program because Orange County, which has a working arrangement with Kern County, has been highly successful with its program.

Orange County "has a 70 percent success rate" for identifying suspects from DNA taken in property crime cases, Jagels said.

"This is an amazing statistic," he said.

Last year, Kern agreed to submit Orange County cases to a national data base. Orange uses private labs, but private labs can't access the data base, Jagels said.

So Kern does it for them. If a suspect in the data base matches a submitted DNA profile, that can be used as evidence the suspect committed the crime, he said.

"The crooks who leave evidence behind in property crimes are going to be in big trouble in Kern County," Jagels said.