Manchester Police Say Wickham Park Burglar Nabbed Through DNA

Police say DNA evidence helped them track down a burglar who stole equipment from the maintenance garage at Wickham Park last fall.

Julian Burney, 43, of 160 Barbour St., Hartford, was arrested Tuesday and charged with first-degree burglary, third-degree larceny, criminal mischief and criminal trespass. Burney posted bail of $100,000 and is due in Manchester Superior Court on Sept. 19, a court official said Wednesday.

Officers were sent to the privately owned park on the Manchester-East Hartford line on Oct. 27 after a report of a break-in. A window in the maintenance garage door was smashed, and equipment valued at a total of $7,865 was taken, police said.

While inside the garage, the thief or thieves triggered a motion alarm on Oct. 26 at about 10:30 p.m., but a park ranger who was notified refused to respond or contact officers "because he assumed the alarm had been activated by the cat residing in the building," a police report said.

Investigators collected DNA from the garage and sent them to the state laboratory. By checking the crime scene swabs against DNA stored in a state and national offender database, the lab identified Burney as a probable source, the police report said. Burney has a criminal history in the state dating to 1992 that includes thefts and narcotics violations, police said.

Police obtained a fresh DNA sample from Burney in May and questioned him about the burglary. Burney denied involvement, police said, but tests completed in July showed that a DNA profile from one sample left at the garage, a mix of two contributors, was "at least 180 million times more likely to occur if it originated from Julian Burney and one unknown individual than if it originated from two unknown individuals," the report said.

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