In St. Petersburg, Florida are Tattoos the new DNA?

From an article in the Tampa Times, new evidence that tattoos are increasingly being used to ID criminals. Some of this “ink” is so unique, it is replacing the old photo packs as tools to identify suspects…

Police were investigating a robbery in St. Petersburg. They had no suspects but were canvasing the area for leads. They happened to interview a nearby employee of the Mariner car wash who remembered a man with an unusual arm tattoo that read “Most Wanted”. That man happened to have a previous conviction for a different bank robbery. Based on the tattoo description, police ran his DNA and found a match to the suspect. The man, 43, received 30 years in prison and the state attorney prosecuting the case claimed the visual ID of the tattoo was invaluable in getting the conviction.

In Florida, this man joins a growing army of criminals who are being identified mainly though their tatoos and “markings”. As tattos have exploded in popularity, polce agencies are increasingly photographing and distributing the photos in a catalogue to help identify more criminals.

In St. Petersburg alone, these tatoos have helped solve multiple crimes. When a man was shot behind a pool hall in St. Petersburg last year, the suspect was easily found. he reason? The large “727” tattoo (the St. Petersburg area code) on the back of his neck! Ironically, the suspect (Dwayne Bailey) had previously talked to because he was already a suspect. He has been charged with murder and is awaiting trial.

Another St. Petersburg case ended in an arrest, this time for sexual battery. Two out of three victims described a tattoo that said “Ride or Die”. The suspect, who had that tattoo etched on his neck, is also awaiting trial.. Another man from nearby Riverview was identified in a burglary by his large state of Florida tattoo put right on his face.

Tattoos as evidence is not just a Florida phenomenon. In California a man was convicted of a murder outside a liquor store. This murder was unsolved until police got a big break. The assigned detective was going through a tattoo book and saw the defendant with the murder scene tattooed on his chest!

When interviewed, a St. Petersburg police spokesman admitted that while not all tattoos are helpful, generally the more unique one is, the better it works in identifying a person. Thanks to modern technology, police now have computer databases and can run a tattoo through a system to see if it matches a prior arrest. Recently, a St. Petersburg woman was caught on tape committing credit card fraud. She was seen on camera and had a large tattoo on her right shoulder. She was later arrested on a seperate case and in booking, her tattoo was found, resulting in additional charges.

In nearby Tampa, a tattooed woman was accused of purse snatching at a Publix and then using the stolen credit cards. Once again, while her face was hidden, her tattoo was visible…making the police hopeful they will soon be making another arrest…

Have you or a loved one been arrested for battery or theft? Then call the experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyers of Blake & Dorsten, P.A. today! These criminal defense attorneys are former prosecutors with the know how to help you on your case. They handle all cases throughout Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Brandon, Gulport, Dunedin and Tarpon Springs. Call them at 727.286.6141 or contact them for a free consultation!

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