Police collect cigarette butt left behind by burglar

Officer who first responded to investigation did not follow procedure

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Brittany Myers holds a cigarette butt she says was left behind by whoever burglarized her home.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A day after Brittany Myers spoke to Channel 4 about a burglary to her home in which police didn't collect a cigarette butt left behind by the burglar, officers went to her home Friday to pick up the piece of evidence.

Police plan to test the cigarette butt for DNA.

Myers said a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office chief told her he would oversee the investigation and make sure everything gets done correctly, then apologized for the officer who responded for not following procedure.

"The evidence in this case should have been collected at the scene when it was discovered," JSO spokeswoman Melissa Bujeda said in a statement Friday. "It is not up to the Crime Scene Detective to determine what will or will not be submitted at a future date to FDLE for DNA or other testing. Burglary cases such as this are assigned to a detective who specializes in this type investigation. The assigned detective, in conjunction often with the State Attorney's Office will decide what items would best assist in solving and prosecuting a case."

Myers said someone broke into her home near Florida State College at Jacksonville's Kent Campus and stole thousands of dollars worth of stuff, but left behind a cigarette butt.

Myers said the cigarette butt would have saliva, which means DNA.

The break-in happened New Year's Eve around 7:30 p.m. when Myers and her boyfriend were out with friends.

"One of the bricks from our tree was taken and used to smash open the window," Myers said. "Then they're able to get in the window without breaking the second pane to unlock the door."

She said the crook combed the home, taking computers, a camera and her boyfriend's gun.

"When I went to my bedroom, on the first sight I noticed that the left sock drawer was open," Myers said.

The alarm went off and her 18-year-old brother came back home around the same time. The thief scurried away as the teen arrived, but forgot what Myers believes is a key piece of evidence.

She said two Jacksonville police officers went to her home and couldn't find any fingerprints. She said she found the cigarette butt while one of the officers was there, but he didn't seem to care about the DNA that could have been on it.

"He went to sitting in his car, he never came out to look at it or anything," Myers said. "He said that, again, it goes back to the same thing that he told me earlier: DNA would not be ran because the cost it was to them."

DNA testing can be expensive, but Channel 4 crime analyst Ken Jefferson said the database includes felons who were convicted in the last few decades, and it could be a sure way to crack the case.

According to the Justice Department, Florida started collecting DNA samples from offenders who committed the nonviolent felony offense of burglary in July 2000. The state started collecting DNA samples from all felons in 2005.

"You've got a bad person that has broken into a house who now has a gun where they can commit other crimes," Jefferson said. "I think the officers should have used better judgment and collected the item that they could have possibly sent off to the lab just to see if there is any evidence. At least try. The victims and the taxpayers here in the city want a little bang for their buck when it comes down to law enforcement services."

"We can get over the money that's missing, but the fact that there's a gun out there, I don't think it's going to rest on my conscience well if it comes up that that gun was used to kill anybody," Myers said.

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