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DNA is cited in theft of FBI van

L.A. gang member held in connection with the May incident in Irvine.

August 15, 2008|Stuart Pfeifer | Times Staff Writer

A Los Angeles gang member has been arrested on suspicion of stealing an FBI van from the parking lot of an Irvine home improvement store, police said Thursday.

Police used DNA evidence to link Ivan Hernandez to the May 23 theft at a Home Depot on Irvine Boulevard, said Irvine Police Lt. Rick Handfield.

The arrest marked the latest example of DNA's usefulness in solving property crimes, Handfield said. Police found the van around the corner from the store the day it was stolen and swabbed the steering wheel and gear shift, recovering genetic markers that were used to tie Hernandez to the crime, Handfield said.

DNA can be recovered not only from blood, saliva and other bodily fluids but also from skin cells that can be transferred when someone touches an object.

Police arrested Hernandez, 28, on Wednesday at a home in the 1100 block of 23rd Street in Los Angeles. He has an extensive criminal record, including convictions for auto theft, Handfield said.

The stolen van had been driven by a maintenance worker and contained a number of hand tools. Several items stolen from the van were recovered from Hernandez's home, Handfield said.

"We do this routinely. The areas the suspect may have handled or touched, we're able to get DNA," Handfield said. "On property crimes, this is becoming routine evidence. We're getting a lot more of these cold-case hits."

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stuart.pfeifer@latimes.com

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