WAUKEGAN, Ill. (CBS) — The CBS 2 Morning Insiders on Monday introduced us to an electronics-sniffing dog who recently helped police in Lake County bust an identity theft ring.
You might wonder how a dog can sniff out electronics. As CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas reported, it happens to be a growing trend in law enforcement.
Browser is a lot like any other dog. He likes treats and loves a good nap.
But one thing separates him from the pack. And to show it off, his handler, Carol Gudbrandsen, had a flash drive hidden in the lobby of the Lake County Building in Waukegan.
Gudbrandsen guides Browser around the room, and when he gets to a blue trash can next to a row of flags, he starts pawing.
The USB drive was tucked behind the trash can.
So just how does Browser do it?
“There is a bonding chemical that is baked onto any of the circuitry, and so Todd Jordan of Jordan Detection trains these dogs with that chemical,” Gudbrandsen said.
The chemical is called TPPO – short for Triphenylphosphine oxide – chemical formula OP(C6H5)3. It’s not just in flash drives – when Browser wasn’t looking, McNicholas stuffed his phone between some couch cushions and Browser found it right away.
“He’s really good at what he does,” Gudbrandsen said.
Browser and Gudbrandsen have worked aas a team for the Lake County State’s Attorney’s office for two years.
He has gone on about 50 search warrants.
“He found devices that we missed – in dirty laundry, hidden high up on a desk, on shelving units above a desk – he was able to find those,” Gudbrandsen said.
Most recently, Browser helped Highland Park police search the home of Parrish Livingston – a man now charged in an identity theft scheme with more than 100 victims.
“Browser is fantastic at finding small things or hidden things that we might otherwise miss,” said Highland Park police Cmdr. Bill Bonaguidi.
“On our most recent search warrant, he walked in, instantly jumped up on the bed, sat and indicated on the bed,” Gudbrandsen said.
Browser is one of about 30 electronic detection dogs in the United States. He is not the first one to make news.
A dog named Bear became something of a celebrity in 2015. He helped police scour the Indiana home of former Subway pitchman Jared Fogle – who went on to plead guilty to child pornography and child sex charges.
At the time, Bear was one of just about three electronic sniffing dogs in the U.S., according to trainer Todd Jordan.
“He can sniff out SD cards, thumb drives, external hard drives, iPads,” Jordan said.
Jordan also trained Browser and most of the electronic sniffing dogs in America. Dogs like Browser have increased tenfold in the U.S. in the last five years.
“All the cases now are just growing in the amount of digital evidence,” Gudbrandsen said.
Browser knows when it’s time to work because his owner wears a bag full of treats. And that’s his favorite part.
Jordan said he is currently training six more dogs that will hit the streets. Browser is one of only two in Illinois.
Some of the other agencies that have requested his help include the FBI and the Secret Service.