MEBANE, N.C. -- The Alamance County Sheriff's Office solved a cold case from 2010 thanks to a DNA match that showed up three years later.
It was a home break-in in Mebane. The owner told WFMY News 2's Liz Crawford that he left for 20 minutes and came home to $12,000 worth of damage and stolen property. The sheriff's office was stumped with no leads or suspects.
Read: 3 Years Later, DNA Leads Deputies To Robbery Suspect
Randy Jones with the Alamance County Sheriff's Office said, "This case would have gone uncleared. There's a high potential of it. It was basically a cold case for being able to develop anything any further until we got the DNA match."
The homeowner told WFMY News 2 that the suspect cut himself when he broke through the window. Deputies were able to get a DNA sample, which they sent off to the national database, CODIS. Three years went by before finally a match linked a Burlington man to the break-in.
The sheriff's office says DNA matches can take a while before getting a match because of back-log. There's also a strict criteria crimes must fit before samples are even allowed for submission into the database. Plus, the suspect might not always be in the system at the time of the crime. Years later, a hit could turn up once new DNA is put in the database. Another factor is that investigators have to prioritize crimes.
"It's just a hard fact, we're going to prioritize homicide cases. Severe crimes of violence are going to be highly prioritized over a property crime," said Jones.
The Alamance County Sheriff's Office said the suspect was already in jail for other crimes when they charged him with this break-in.
Thanks to DNA, the Alamance County Sheriff's Office solves about two cold cases a year.
In fact, a few years ago deputies solved a sexual assault case involving an 80-year-old woman because of a DNA match that came through four years after the crime.
WFMY News 2, Alamance County Sheriff's Office