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The "101" Department: Feeling Insecure?

Shelters turn to technology and training to take a bite out of crime

Animal shelters are supposed to be refuges for homeless and stray pets, places where people can come to retrieve a lost pet, or find a new best friend.

But anyone who’s worked in the field long enough knows that shelters are also something else: targets.

It’s almost routine to hear reports of shelters becoming the victims of crime. It seems that people will steal just about anything: cash, of course, but also animals, whether a cute kitten smuggled out underneath a winter coat, or a lost dog an obstinate owner would prefer to steal than pay to reclaim. They’ll also raid the various drugs shelters keep on hand—controlled substances like the sedative Ketamine and painkillers, which are often sold illegally on the street. And plenty of other things get boosted, too: vans and trucks, computers from offices, bags of pet food. In other words, anything that isn’t nailed down—and a few things that are, such as heating and air-conditioning equipment, sometimes targeted by thieves looking to sell the valuable copper components.

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