How Are Burglaries Proven?
Interviewer: What kind of physical evidence do the police find? Do they dust for fingerprints or rely on witnesses? How do they tie someone to a burglary?
Stuart: There is no typical, really. It can be witnesses. It can be fingerprints. Back in the late 1990s, I tried one of the first commercial burglaries in which they actually used DNA evidence against the client.
DNA at that time was pretty new, and it was very expensive to do. So they would do it for residential burglaries; but very rarely for commercial burglaries. This was one of the first ones they tried that way.
That case actually went to trial; and was simply a commercial burglary of two people. They use a lot of different methods. Fingerprints are easily done and usually looked for.
DNA, even today when it is much cheaper, still is not done all that often on the commercial burglary. But they do that sometimes. A lot of times there are cameras. It may not be the camera of the store itself, but it may be something next door or across the street. Then, as I said, they may rely on witnesses.
You would be surprised, unfortunately, how many times somebody leaves something there; whether it is just a bag or something they brought to carry stuff. I actually represented a client who left his license at the scene.
That was a very interesting case because our defense was that he was set up. He would not leave his own license there. Somebody set him up to put his license there.
Yes, there are a lot of different things that can go into a burglary, depending on the nature of the proof available.