Will County 'scent jars' help police find missing persons

The Will County Sheriff's Office is encouraging residents to take advantage of a program to help find missing people. Its main focus is those who might wander off, such as people with dementia or special needs.

If someone goes missing in Will County, the team to call in is Canine Deputy Martin Stortz and his partner, Lizzie, who's a 2-year-old bloodhound.

"It's pretty amazing. It's the best job in the world in my opinion," said Deputy Stortz.

The dog just needs someone’s scent to get on their trail.

"Once she smells that, that's the only scent she's looking for," said Stortz.

It helps if Lizzie's not confused by multiple scents, or items "contaminated," as Deputy Stortz explains.

"So you have your jacket on right now — if he touches your jacket, then he would contaminate it with his scent. So when she smells the jacket, she would smell two scents and she wouldn't know who, which one she's looking for," Stortz said.

That's why the Will County Sheriff's Office wants to bottle someone's pure, uncontaminated scent in jars as part of a scent kit they’re handing out to residents. You use a gauze pad to wipe over your body, then place it in a glass jar and tighten the lid. The Sheriff’s Office recommends keeping them on top of your fridge so it’s easy to find.


The kits are designed for those prone to wandering off, such as an elderly person with dementia or a child with autism.

Christina Neitzke-Troike from Homer Glen picked up the scent kits for her special needs son, a daughter she describes as "rambunctious," and her parents.

"If the scent jar can help bring somebody home that may be lost, why wouldn't you do it?," said Neitzke-Troike.

Lizzie and her mighty snout are called into action about a half-dozen times a month in Will County. Each time, the clock is ticking.

"In the case that somebody does go missing, instead of looking through bedrooms and looking for some kind of uncontaminated scent article, we can go straight for that jar and get to work right away," said Deputy Stortz.

You can pick the scent jars at the Will County Sheriff’s Office or they’ll make a house call if you can’t make it in.