DNA sample from grocery store helps cops catch suspect in 2013 bank robbery

Posted at 9:23 PM, Mar 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-20 23:23:18-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- A bank robber on the loose for months is now behind bars thanks to the help of DNA technology.

Police said Tracy Scott Velarde robbed the University Federal Credit Union at 490 East 500 South in November of 2013, but, for almost a year and a half, police didn't know who their suspect was.

But, smart use of technology helped police capture the suspect. Authorities had surveillance video from the bank robbery that showed the robber leaving the bank and heading into a nearby grocery store. At that grocery store, crime scene technicians were able to retrieve the suspect's DNA.

“Somehow they were able to go into the business and acquire a DNA sample from this person; they sent the sample out to a chemical agency for an analysis in 2014, and just recently investigators received that sample and it was a match,” said Det. Dennis McGowan of the Salt Lake City Police Department.

DNA technology identified the suspect as 49-year-old Tracy Scott Velarde.

“They came back with a match, and it helps us solve these crimes that people thought would never be solved in the past,” McGowan said.

After identifying Velarde, they reached out for the public’s help. Less than 48 hours later, they got a tip that led them to booking Velarde into jail Friday evening.

“It’s having the public help us help them and help the community by solving these type of crimes.... to get these dangerous people off the street,” McGowan said.

Police said they arrested Velarde at a family member's home in Salt Lake City.