A suspect arrested in Portlaoise has now been linked to two crimes in different parts of the country thanks to Ireland's new DNA database.
A DNA sample was taken from the man in garda custody recently, and when his unique genetic profile was put into the sophisticated computer networks of Forensic Science Ireland (FSI) he was linked to a previous unauthorised taking of property in Meath and a burglary in Sligo.
This is the first case since the DNA database was set up last November that a match has been made between a person and a crime.
"It's the first official hit recorded by the new database," said Dr Sheila Willis, director general of FSI.
The Herald has previously reported how the launch of the database was one of the biggest developments in forensics in Ireland. Samples of material from crime scenes and suspects can be processed to extract DNA profiles and store them on computer. These can then be compared to each other so that suspects can be linked to crime scenes.
"The beauty of the database is that it can make precise scientific links between crime scenes and suspects that might otherwise have taken a long time to establish - or never happened at all - using traditional policing," said one garda spokesman.
"In this instance, a link has been made between a person and crimes in at least two different parts of the country in two different garda divisions," they added.
"In the absence of this DNA evidence the chances are those two garda divisions might not have been in touch with each other about crimes in their respective areas, but now they can compare notes and the evidence will be used to build a case against a suspect."
The database has also linked one person, who is yet unknown, to 14 different burglary scenes over a five-year period.
The new hi-tech weapon being used by gardai to solve crime has also linked an unknown man suspected of carrying out a theft at a building site with an alleged rape in a different location at a later date.