In a FOX 32 special report: cracking crimes against kids.
Child predators are finding new ways to cover their tracks, but law enforcement has a secret weapon that recently put one local criminal behind bars.
Meet Cache: at first glance, he may seem like your typical K9 officer. But he's actually Will County's secret weapon to catch child predators.
“He's a rescue dog, he was rescued and he's repurposed to save kids,” said chief investigator Megan Brooks.
Cache spells his name just like the cache on your computer. His job is to literally sniff out child pornography, and he recently did just that.
Earlier this summer, Steven Long pled guilty to two counts of possession of child pornography after Cache found thumb drives filled with child porn in Long's garage. This is after Long was convicted of child porn in Canada and deported to the United States.
“You bring Cache in, he's going to hit on it. He has a sense of smell that's outstanding. It truly is,” said James Glasgow, Will County State’s Attorney.
Glasgow says Cache's job is especially important because child pornography is becoming harder and harder to detect in the digital age.
Cache is trained to find a specific chemical inside electronics like thumb drives and memory sticks, and if a criminal is hiding a device, Brooks - along with Cache - work to uncover it.
“We put the food pouch on, he puts his vest on, and we tell him let's get to work,” Brooks said.
Brooks then runs her fingers along the side of a wall.
“When and if he smells the chemical, he'll take two steps back, he sits down, the third command is show me and then he points to where he's getting the odor from,” Brooks said.
Glasgow says hiding the devices has gotten creative in recent years. For instance, a phony Aquafina bottle.
“You've got a very large storage area in the bottle, and it's not uncommon when we do search warrants, people have 4,5 cases of water in the garage,” Glasgow said.
He says the strategy of using Cache is working, but he's not the only key to success. One thing that sets Will County apart is child porn arrests on the spot.
“I have a person on my staff who can go in and analyze the equipment right there on the scene,” Glasgow said.
That means they can find the child porn right away. No spending months analyzing at the lab and potentially letting a criminal off the hook.
“Children are sacred. I mean, if we don't protect our children, our entire society will collapse,” Glasgow said.