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DNA Links Man To 2013 Brookline Break Ins


Brookline police recently connected evidence with a man who previously served time for breaking into St. Mary’s Church and stole the church car to another break in in town. On Sept. 29, the man was sentenced to an additional three to four years of state prison followed by a year on probation, according to the District Attorney’s Office. The connected evidence? Brookline Police were able to capture DNA from the crime scene and send it to the lab for analysis.

Gerard Cribbie, of Dorchester pleaded guilty on Sept. 29 to all of the charges against him: one count of breaking and entering in the night time to commit a felony and two counts of attempting to commit a 2013 crime in Brookline.

Prosecutor David Ringius, Jr. asked the judge to send him to state prison for 5 years with 2 years of probation supervision after. Defense attorney J. Dan Silverman asked for 2 years state prison with 1 year probation to follow.

“We’ve always processed crime scenes for fingerprints, but there have been times recently that we’ve seen culprits wearing gloves,” said Brookline Chief of Police Dan O’Leary. So some times processing for prints is not as successful as it once was. “A half dozen years ago we trained everybody on DNA collection and what to look for,” he said.

They submit DNA samples to an outside lab for analysis. If the lab has a record of the same DNA there’s a match and the case can go from there. The upside is that DNA collection and the database are growing.

“The only downside to that is it does take longer,” he said. If the DNA match is in the database, and it’s not a person to person crime. it can take about 9 months which is better than previously, he said. But it still takes a while.

What happened in Brookline:

On August 18, 2013, Brookline Police received reports of an attempted breaking and entering into several offices at 7 Harvard Street in Brookline. One particular office was in a state of disarray with papers and other objects moved around, a briefcase and polo shirt were both missing. But it appeared the suspect left behind a coke bottle and red t-shirt. Police took various such items for processing as they investigated the case.

That same day, police arrested Cribbie, then 45, for breaking into St. Mary’s on the corner of Harvard and Linden and stealing a laptop, an iPod, and a car that had “St. Mary’s Church” plastered on the side just two days earlier. Dedham police found the car with the hood still warm. Officers were able to charge the man, who they said was known to them for breaking into area churches, after finding his fingerprints on a candy dish. Cribbie had been on the state’s most wanted list in 2006 for escaping from the Department of Corrections Pre-Release center in Boston while serving a sentence for breaking and entering.

He was convicted of the church break in and was still serving time when, in January of 2015, the State Lab was able to get a DNA sample from Cribbie’s shirt and match it to the shirt left behind in the office break in, according to a Brookline Police blog post.

He had just finished serving time for a different breaking and entering this month and taken into custody for the new charges. He was also charged in connection with a break-in in Western Mass while this case was pending and was being held in lieu of bail on that case at the time of this sentencing.