A man has been taken into custody by the police officers after they said that he broke into a Queens’s clothing shop then attempted to smash a hole into a neighboring jewelry store. Officers were able to arrest him after they linked his DNA to a cigarette butt recovered from the crime scene that happened 3 years back.
According to the authorities, 31-year-old Michael Howard is charged for burglary and criminal mischief charges in the 21st of March 2011 incident, break-in at the Paradise Discount Clothing store on Liberty Ave. near 111th St. in Ozone Park.
According to Paradise Discount owner Aramnarine Persaud, Howard entered the clothing store that had just opened 2 weeks earlier, through a back window after closing, and used the tools he found inside to break a hole in the wall adjoining Italia A. Jewelry Inc. He recalled, “I put a new window in for ventilation and he broke in through that. He used my drill and my sledgehammer. He made a big hole, but it was a double wall”. He added, “They didn’t take anything because they wanted the gold”. None of Persaud’s inventory was missing, according to him.
Jewelry store owner 45-year-old Annamaria Barra said her landlord at the time heard noises and accused her of doing late-night construction. “He banged on the wall with a baseball bat and they got scared and stopped”. She always believed that at least 2 men committed the attempted break-in. “They started again and he started banging again, screaming Shut Up!”
According to the officials, Howard attempted to break the double wall but gave up and left. He allegedly left behind a cigarette butt which Persaud gave to detectives the next morning for investigation.
He said, “I got the idea from some detective show. They got DNA off the saliva from the coffee cup after some guy killed his girlfriend”.
Police officers ran the DNA on the cigarette but didn’t get a hit until Howard was convicted of an unrelated attempted burglary on 5th of May. He is currently in jail until May, 2018, said the New York State Department of Correction.
Officials said that Howard had to give a DNA sample upon his conviction.
He has a “well-documented criminal history” and had been taken into custody more than a dozen times, but never convicted of a crime that demanded he add his DNA to the state’s database, according to the police sources.
Persaud said, “It’s unbelievable. Sometimes something as silly as a cigarette butt”.