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DNA evidence leads to arrest of Santa Rosa man in 2013 break-in

DNA evidence helped Sonoma County sheriff’s detectives link a 36-year-old Santa Rosa man to a break-in that took place more than a year ago.

Carl Joseph Grear was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of commercial burglary as well as on five outstanding arrest warrants for unrelated theft and traffic cases, Sonoma County sheriff’s officials said.

The case is the latest in at least 15 property crime investigations in which DNA has led sheriff’s detectives to identify suspects over the past four years, said Sgt. Mike Raasch, who runs the property crimes investigation unit.

In a 2011 case, evidence technicians collected DNA from the sweat in shoes left behind during a Sebastopol-area residential burglary that led to a suspect. That same year, blood left behind on a broken window led detectives to eventually identify two suspects in a string of burglaries throughout the county, including break-ins in Windsor, Bodega Bay, Larkfield, Graton and Petaluma.

It can take months for results to come back from a state laboratory, where homicides, assaults and other violent crimes take precedent. But it’s worth waiting when the results help detectives find suspects for cases that might otherwise have gone unsolved, Raasch said.

In the most recent case, deputies found blood on a broken window at the Computer Recycling Center on Santa Rosa Avenue when they responded to an alarm call on Oct. 3, 2013, sheriff’s spokeswoman Sgt. Cecile Focha said. The chain-link fence appeared to have been cut by bolt cutters left behind.

An Apple iMac computer was the only thing taken, Raasch said.

None of the evidence pointed to a suspect until Nov. 24, when the state Department of Justice lab alerted Raasch’s team that the DNA was linked to a person whose information was listed in a database of samples taken from people arrested on suspicion of committing felony crimes. The database linked the blood to Grear.

Detectives looked into Grear as a suspect and Tuesday booked him into the Sonoma County Jail, where he was being held in lieu of $155,000 bail. Grear is scheduled to be arraigned Friday.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter ?@jjpressdem.

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