CONCORD, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — The Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office is using K-9 Mac on its team to help find electronics that store evidence in cases related to child exploitation, human trafficking and more.
Mac is one of North Carolina’s only electronic-sniffing canines, and investigators say he was critical in the arrest of a Union County Public Schools instructional coach on child pornography charges.
Mac can find cellphones, computers, thumb drives and even micro-SD cards that have critical evidence and are stashed by criminals and hidden from detectives.
“He’s like the office celebrity,” said Mac’s handler, Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Det. Travis Coley. “Never a dull day coming to work with him, that’s for sure.”
The 3-year-old English Labrador retriever has adjusted to his line of work.
“He was a well-kept secret for a while when we first got him,” said Coley.
But not for long.
“He’s getting a lot of work, and he’s kind of impressing everybody that he’s around.”
Only one other dog in North Carolina does Mac’s kind of work.
“He doesn’t grasp what he’s doing to help these victims,” Coley explained.
Mac is a crime fighter. The sheriff’s office got Mac in March 2022 after being awarded a grant from Operation Underground Railroad, a nonprofit which fights against human trafficking and child exploitation cases.
He uses his nose and smells what detectives can’t see that’s stashed by criminals.
“They’re wanting to hide it and conceal it from being found,” said Coley. “He’s pretty critical in helping. You know we didn’t miss anything.”
Coley demonstrated to Queen City News what Mac can do by keeping the canine outside a room while he hid electronics, including a micro-SD card inside a pencil sharpener.
Mac found all the electronics when he came back in the room.
The sheriff’s office says a certain type of chemical is sprayed on electronics in the manufacturing process, and Mac can sniff that out.
“Anything that can store memory or that holds memory, they put (the chemical) on there,” explained Coley. “It keeps them from overheating, and that’s the odor he’s indicating on.”
Mac uses his nose to help the sheriff’s office during search warrants involving human trafficking and child exploitation cases.
“All the evidence is on a cellphone; somebody’s life is on a cellphone,” said Coley.
But he can sniff out evidence in other cases too.
“People that rob you or want to hurt you or want to commit violent crimes against you, they have cellphones too,” said Coley.
He can find just about everything.
As you might imagine, he’s pretty attracted to and comfortable in front of our QCN camera.
“It’s exciting for me to be able to use Mac to be able to help the victims,” said Det. Coley.
It’s all in a day’s work for Mac.