Police dog tracks down suspect

(Original publication: May 20, 2004)

The town's police dog, Justice, put his nose to the ground early Monday to track a Lake Carmel teenager, who police said broke into a Route 52 delicatessen and stole more than $200 in scratch-off lottery tickets.

Sgt. Carlton Champagne and Officer Joe Fleishman responded to Deli Land at Route 52 and Chauncey Road around 1:50 a.m. on a report of people loitering behind the building. The store's alarm had been triggered, and police discovered that someone had forced an air conditioner out of a rear wall and that items had apparently been removed from inside.

As police secured the scene, Detective Kevin Douchkoff responded with Officer Thomas Carroll and Justice, a German shepherd from Slovakia. Within seconds, Justice picked up a scent and tracked it through back yards, across a street and over a stone wall to a nearby residence on Sedgewick Road.

Police said that's where they found Peter Muir, 16, of Farmers Mills Road, and roughly $205 worth of lottery tickets. Police charged Muir with third-degree burglary, a felony, and petty larceny and fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, misdemeanors.

Muir was arraigned Tuesday in Town Court and is due back there on June 15.

Owen Jordan, owner of Deli Land, responded to his business when the alarm sounded and said he was amazed to watch Justice do his job.

"It was incredible," Jordan said yesterday, between serving customers. "The dog jumped right up on the wall, picked up the scent and ran off."

Since the incident, Jordan said, several customers have come into the store and commented about Muir's arrest.

It's not the first time that Justice has proved his mettle. In July 2002 on just his second tour of duty, he tracked a would-be thief through 3 miles of thick woods before helping to capture him. The alleged thief was interrupted as he tried to break into a car. In August 2003, Justice helped police capture three Lake Carmel men, all brothers, who were fighting with one another, then with police. However, when Justice showed up, police said, the three men calmed down and were arrested.


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Wednesday, January 5, 2005