Scent preservation kits save lives, money, law enforcement says

SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. — Local law enforcement agencies are using what's called a scent preservation kit to find missing people.

A K-9 was able to track the woman’s scent. She’s the second person in the county that was able to be tracked down because of the kit.

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Law enforcement officers said the kits can not only save a life, but time and money.

Sumter County sheriff's deputies respond to calls about missing people with Alzheimer's or dementia about once a week in The Villages.

Residents Carol and Jerry Knoll said they saw it happen firsthand after a neighbor wandered off.

"He had gone about 8 or 9 miles in a golf cart in an area he shouldn't have been,” said Jerry Knoll. "That was really scary.”

Several local law enforcement agencies in Florida are now using the scent preservation kits.

How it works

The kits are an efficient way to find a missing person, law enforcement officials said.

A person has to rub a special pad on their upper body, usually under their arms or on their chest.

Then, the person will place the pad in a sterile jar.

As long as it is not opened, it will stay good for seven years.

A life-saving tool

“It will save a lot of time trying to find somebody,” said Lt. Robert Siemer of the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office.

He said searching for a missing person required a great deal of resources.

“Historically, if a loved one went missing that has Alzheimer's or dementia, we could send as many deputies as we could. We’d send our helicopters up here,” said Siemer.

The kits help a K-9 zero in on the scent. Sumter County has not yet found someone using the kit.

The Knolls said they plan to make their own kits soon.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office bought 1,000 of the scent preservation kits in June.