Police hunting for the Night Watcher have been denied access to DNA databases held by the Ministry of Defence.
Detectives believe the burglar has a military background – and would have given a genetic sample to help identification in case of his death in combat.
They have some suspect DNA they want to test but defence chiefs insist on further evidence before opening up their highly sensitive database. It is understood one defence official told investigators their request was a ‘fishing trip’ and a genuine link needed to be shown first.
Detectives believe the burglar (pictured in a CCTV image from Maidenhead) has a military background – and would have given a genetic sample to help identification in case of his death in combat
If the professional burglar was a policeman or had been convicted of a crime his profile would have been flagged up.
Police officers must hand over their genetic profile as part of recruitment checks and so that they can be ruled out of investigations.
Det Insp James Derham of Kent Police said: ‘Police hand over their DNA in case of cross contamination at the scene. The military database is held for other reasons and they are not willing to hand that data over for criminal investigations.’
It is understood that servicemen and women hand over a DNA sample before joining tours in dangerous territories and war zones.
This map shows the seven burglaries across the Home Counties that have been linked to the Night Watcher
However, it is unclear how many identities are held in total or how long the profile is kept. Defence officials fear that granting access to the police would breach data protection laws.
Police do have access to Ministry of Defence police records as part of everyday data sharing agreements, but these are limited.
An MoD spokesman said: ‘We are working with the police in their investigation.
‘We are unable to share DNA taken from personnel before they are deployed on military operations as it is restricted under data protection.
‘If service personnel are convicted of a crime or are under suspicion, DNA records are shared with the police.’