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Conn. copper wire thief caught after leaving straw with DNA evidence at scene

Windsor Locks Police swabbed a straw found in a cup at the scene and took it to the Rapid DNA Lab; officers were able to track down the suspect, who had stolen about 52 pounds of copper wiring

Police in a CT town say copper thief undone by discarded drinking straw, new technology

Police found that Myslenski went to a South Windsor scrap yard on Jan. 9 and received $70.90 for about 52 pounds of copper, Resto wrote.

Windsor Locks Police Department

By Jesse Leavenworth
New Haven Register, Conn.

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — Windsor Locks police say a suspected thief who stripped copper parts from commercial air-conditioning units gave himself away by leaving a drinking straw at the scene.

Time-saving DNA testing technology helped police track down the suspect, according to an arrest warrant released Tuesday.

Jason Myslenski, 37, described in the warrant as a convicted felon with a long record of crimes in Connecticut and Massachusetts, was charged Friday with first-degree larceny and first-degree criminal mischief. Myslenski posted a $20,000 bond and was due to appear in Superior Court in Hartford on Feb. 23, according to court records.

The theft was reported on Jan. 9 at a commercial building on Concorde Way. Police said the building owner showed an officer torn-up condenser units that were missing copper piping and parts, totalling $20,000 in damage. The owner also pointed to a 7-Eleven coffee cup next to the ruined condensers. Snow fell in the area on Jan. 6 and 7, but the cup did not have any snow on it, indicating it had been left recently, Det. Heriberto Resto wrote in the arrest warrant affidavit.

Police swabbed a red straw found in the cup and a multi-tool found at the scene for DNA, and took the items to the Rapid DNA Lab at the Hartford Police Department for testing on Jan. 10, Resto wrote. On the same day, police were told that DNA from the straw matched Myslenski, whom Resto knew from a previous narcotics investigation, according to the warrant.

A relatively new technology being used in Connecticut, the Rapid DNA system is a fully automated testing device that compares DNA taken from individuals and crime scenes to databases. It can give a result within 90 minutes. Windsor Locks Det. Sgt. Jeff Lampson said the technology saves time compared with older testing methods.

Each printer-size testing machine costs about $250,000. While Rapid DNA testing can save police weeks or even months, however, Lampson and Hartford police spokesperson Lt. Aaron Boisvert said it only works for single-source DNA, so any item from a crime scene with more than one person’s blood or other bodily substance must be tested and analyzed by forensic scientists.

Windsor Locks police found that Myslenski was a convicted felon with arrests for armed robbery, larceny, burglary, assault, and drug violations, the warrant said. A check at a 7-Eleven store near the scene of the copper theft showed Myslenski was a regular customer and that he was captured on video surveillance in the store on Jan. 8 at about 9:30 p.m., Resto wrote. Myslenski was dressed in black and holding a coffee cup similar to the one found outside the commercial building, the warrant said.

Police found that Myslenski went to a South Windsor scrap yard on Jan. 9 and received $70.90 for about 52 pounds of copper, Resto wrote. In an interview with detectives, Myslenski admitted to having a drug addiction and said he worked at a landscaping company where he was allowed to collect scrap metal to support his habit, the warrant said. However, he denied stealing the copper from the condensing units, police said.

On Jan. 11, police said they received a tip that a male and female were engaged in prostitution at the Motel 6 on National Drive. Lampson saw a man later identified as Myslenski leaving the room that the tipster had identified and took him into custody, the warrant says. Myslenski was not charged with any prostitution-related crimes, Lampson said, but a fanny pack he was carrying held three glass pipes that tested positive for cocaine and he was charged with possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia.


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