DAVENPORT — It could be a cautionary warning to criminals: when committing a crime, be extra careful what you touch — and leave behind at the scene.
Or it could be just what law enforcement agencies want to know: that technology is becoming a valuable tool in combating crime.
On Thursday, Polk County Sheriff’s Robbery detectives arrested a Winter Haven man for what detectives say was his involvement in a robbery in Davenport.
The suspect got arrested the next day, law enforcement officials said, because he left behind a critical piece of evidence — a fingerprint that was used for a positive latent print identification.
“The Crime Scene technicians processed items left behind by the suspect, and were able to recover several Automated Fingerprint Identification System quality prints,” noted Carrie Eleazer, public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, in her report on the arrest. “They entered the prints into the AFIS database, and received a positive hit.”
The match linked the fingerprint to 46-year-old Michael B. Leonard of 8450 Jamestown Drive in Winter Haven.
Robbery detectives used that fingerprint match to get a warrant for Leonard’s arrest. When Leonard showed up at his employer’s office, detectives placed him under arrest, charged him with robbery, and booked him into the Polk County Jail.
His information had been in the system, Eleazer said, because he had been in the Polk County Jail eight previous times, often facing violent charges.
Past charges have included kidnapping and robbery – which got him a state prison sentence — burglary, grand theft auto, dealing in stolen property, forgery, grand theft, and filing a false police report.
In 2008, Leonard was sentenced to three years and two months in prison on a charge of cocaine possession. He was released from the Demilly Correctional Institute last October.
The latest charges stem from a robbery that happened at 3:18 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 17 at the Dollar General Store at 620 Ronald Reagan Parkway in Davenport. A suspect was seen walking near the checkout counter, where he eventually put a few items on the counter — “once no other customers were around,” Eleazer noted.
It got dangerous from that point on, Eleazer said.
“While the clerk was ringing up the items, the suspect leaned over and told her that he was going to rob her and that he would kill her if she did not comply,” Eleazer noted. “He instructed her to open the cash register, and she complied.”
The suspect stole some cash and left the store. A video surveillance camera captured the robbery, and it was noted that the suspect was wearing a neon orange safety vest.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office Robbery detectives and Crime Scene Technicians responded to the scene. Detectives showed Leonard’s photo, embedded in a photo pack series of several different men, to the store clerk.
“She positively identified Leonard as the man who robbed her,” Eleazer noted.
The next day, “He was wearing the same neon orange safety vest when he was taken into custody,” she added.
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