On Monday, April 15th, 2013, an elderly man with Alzheimer’s disease walked away from his residence at a senior living facility in the area of Isabel and Harvard. The male’s wife woke up from a nap to find her husband missing. The police responded to the facility and with the aid of security cameras, the officers were able to determine exactly which door and at what time the male left. Already four hours after the male left, the chance of tracking his scent was quickly diminishing. Factors such as ultra violet sun rays, wind, and passing vehicle traffic can reduce and/or scatter the scent left behind by the lost male. With the sun setting and the onset of darkness quickly approaching, it was crucial to find the male before his safety was further jeopardized.
Officer Sholtis with his K-9 partner, Idol, arrived at the scene. Personal items were collected from the male’s room, which contained his scent. The scent articles were presented to Idol near the door where the male was last seen exiting the building. Even though Idol just recently graduated from his three-week Hard Surface Tracking class, he worked the scent like a seasoned professional. With his nose to the ground, Idol followed the little bit of scent that was still present. Idol tracked the male for four-tenths of a mile, through alleys, down sidewalks, even crossing major intersections. Sniffing 7-8 times each second, tracking is physically demanding for dogs, especially young ones like Idol. Even though his nose was still working, Idol was exhausted and unable to continue the track. However, based on the direction that Idol led Officer Sholtis, critical information about the male’s most probable direction of travel was communicated with other patrol officers in the area. Within ten minutes of continued searching, an officer located the lost male just four blocks away, along the same sidewalk and in the same direction that Idol was tracking towards. The male was safely returned to his residence, much to the delight of his family.
On Sunday, April 14th, 2013, a vehicle burglary suspect was being detained by patrol officers in the area of Rosedale and Glenoaks. The suspect had been seen in several different yards and garages and police had been searching for him for several hours. When the male was eventually caught, he was wearing different clothing from what he was described as wearing by a witness two blocks away. This led officers to believe that the suspect, thinking he was about to be captured, purposely changed his clothing in order to avoid being recognized. Although one witness positively identified the suspect even though he was wearing different clothing, officers knew that finding the male’s hidden clothing would help their case against the suspect in court. Furthermore, finding the hidden clothing may also lead officers in recovering additional evidence, such as stolen items, that he abandoned along the way.
Officer Sholtis and his K-9 partner, Idol, responded to the location where a witness observed the suspect in a neighbor’s driveway before running off. Even though it had been over an hour since the suspect ran from the driveway, K-9 Idol was still able to pick up on his “fear” scent. Idol tracked the suspect’s path across the street, down a sidewalk, through a large parking lot, through an open gate, and into a backyard of a duplex property. Idol pulled towards a secluded area of the yard which was surrounded by overgrown bushes. Idol came across a black cell phone, where he laid down with the item between his front paws, which is his alert to finding an article containing fresh human odor. Next to the cell phone were a black hat, a black visor, and a khaki pair of pants. The clothing that Idol located matched the prior descriptions of what the suspect was wearing on earlier burglary attempts. It was obvious that the items were stashed by the suspect in this secluded area in order to change his appearance and avoid capture. The cell phone may have either been a stolen item or the suspect’s personal cell phone that may have contained information that would incriminate him if located by police.
Without finding these key pieces of evidence, the case against this burglary suspect may not have been as strong. Locating the clothing that he was seen wearing at the scene of several burglaries further tied the suspect to those crimes. This was a job well done by Glendale’s newest K-9 rookie, Idol.