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Florence Police Make Arrest For A Dozen Car Break-Ins

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Nearly a year and a half after a series of car burglaries in Florence, police arrest the man they believe to be responsible.

Police charged Phillip Byron Randall with breaking and entering, theft and criminal mischief.

Officers say those car burglaries happened around the campus of the University of North Alabama in 2010.

On a cool, crisp morning in October of 2010, more than a dozen residents in a north Florence neighborhood woke up to smashed car windows and items stolen from their vehicles.  The crimes remained unsolved until just a couple of days ago.

“We wait and are patient and when we get it, we take action,” said Detective Justin Wright with the Florence Police Department.

Wright says that a cigarette butt left at the scene of one of the car break-ins helped police catch the accused thief.  According to court documents, Randall previously spent time in prison for a theft related conviction, helping in his capture this time.

“Fortunately when someone is arrested for a major crime and they go to prison, they’re DNA is put into a system we call CODIS and based on the DNA we got from the cigarette butt, we were able to get a hit,” said Wright.

Phillip’s alleged crime spree landed him with more than 40 different charges that include breaking and entering, theft of property and criminal mischief.

In addition to the DNA from the cigarette butt, forensic scientists were also able to match blood found in one of the vehicles to blood belonging to Randall.