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DNA Field Experiment: A Randomized Trial of the Cost-Effectiveness of Using DNA to Solve Property Crimes

NCJ Number
Journal of Experimental Criminology Volume: 5 Issue: 4 Dated: December 2009 Pages: 345-369
Date Published
December 2009
25 pages

Results are presented from a randomized study of the impact and cost effectiveness of DNA evidence in investigating property crimes.


The principal finding was that the use of DNA in the investigation of property crimes increased the rate at which suspects were identified, arrested, and prosecuted for property crimes. However, since DNA-led investigations are more costly than business-as-usual, substantial investments will be required to expand the capacity of crime laboratories, police, and prosecutors to use this investigative tool efficiently. The use of DNA to identify, confirm, or exonerate suspects has become a staple of many law enforcement investigations. However, due to limited resources, DNA is routinely used only to investigate the most serious violent crimes. Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, the DNA Field Experiment was designed to provide funds to five communities in California, Kansas, Colorado, and Arizona to expand their DNA collection and analysis to include the investigation of burglaries. This study tested whether collecting and analyzing biological evidence in property crimes led to better case outcomes. Biological evidence was collected at up to 500 crime scenes in the 5 communities between 2005 and 2007, and cases were randomly assigned to the treatment and control groups in equal numbers. Tables and references

Date Published: December 1, 2009