Thief Identified After 9-Year Search Thanks to a Bite of Sausage

A string of burglaries in Germany has been pinned on a man who also stole a careless nibble of somebody else's wurst.

We're never going to advocate for breaking the law, and not just because we're still terrified of McGruff the Crime Dog. But if you do find yourself participating in a minor property crime, it's probably best not to eat anything until you're back in your own home.

In March 2012, a man broke into five residences in the German town of Gevelsberg, making off with jewelry, a gym bag, and assorted vehicle registration documents. But while he was in one apartment, he helped himself to a bite of sausage—and the cops noticed.

"While securing the evidence at the crime scene, our colleagues recovered a piece of sausage that the burglar had bitten into, on which we could preserve his DNA," Sonja Wever, the superintendent of the local Ennepe-Ruhr constabulary, said in a statement quoted by The Times.

Wurst with a bite taken out
Ennepe-Ruhr-Kreis District Police Authority

His identifying information was uploaded into a DNA database, but there were no matches and he was never caught. That changed this week, when police officers in France took a DNA sample from a suspect in an unrelated crime, checked it against the database, and got a match.

The German police were notified that the now-30-year-old Albanian citizen had been identified, but according to the Associated Press, the statute of limitations on those burglaries has expired. He hasn't been arrested for his alleged law-breaking, and will "likely not be" sent back to Germany. (The lead investigator for those cases has also since retired.)

This isn't the first time an alleged burglar has gotten caught because they couldn't resist a snack. In February, police officers in Tulsa, Oklahoma discovered an empty bag of Cheetos and a bottle of water at the site of a break-in. When they apprehended a suspect who was near the scene of the crime, they noticed that her teeth were a suspicious orange color. "A good reminder that Cheeto dust can be pretty hard to get rid of," the Tulsa Police Department wrote on its Facebook page.

And last October, 27-year-old Arran Burton was arrested after the Northumbria (England) Police matched his DNA with a sample taken from a partially eaten peach that was left in a burgled residence. He was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £181 ($250) and sentenced to more than two years in prison. "The DNA work by the forensics team on this case has been fantastic," Detective Sergeant Dave Boon told The Independent. "Their fruitful endeavours mean Arran Burton will now have plenty of time on his hands to think about his actions."

Come on, surely there are much easier—and more legal—ways to get a light snack.

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