In addition to sniffing out drugs, bombs, and other weapons, law enforcement agencies at federal and local levels are training their canine units to assist in fighting cybercrime by sniffing out hidden electronic devices.
The dogs are used to sniff out phones, hard drives, and microSD cards by sniffing for a chemical compound called triphenylphosphine oxide, or TPPO which is used in all electronic devices. Last month, the electronic storage detection, or ESD, dogs helped catch a student hacker who hid an incriminating thumb drive, and in 2015 one of the dogs found a hidden flash drive containing child pornography in the home of former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle that later played a key role in Fogle’s conviction.
Kerry Halligan, a K-9 instructor with the Connecticut State Police told CNet only one out of every 50 dogs tested qualifies to become an ESD dog as the dogs she has tested are trained as guide dogs but are too energetic for the role and a little rebellious.
All food motivated search dogs are only allowed to eat after sniffing the chemical they are imprinted on. If there is no investigation, trainers will conduct mock searchers where items are hidden for the dog to sniff out and find.