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To have a child go missing or wander away is every parent’s nightmare.

For those with children or other family members with cognitive disorders, the North Eastern Law Enforcement Council now possesses equipment designed to find those loved ones who become lost.

Technology by LoJack that has previously been used for finding stolen cars has been transformed into the SafetyNet, a device for finding lost people with disorders like autism and Alzheimer’s disease.

Luckily, the North Eastern Law Enforcement Council now possesses equipment designed to cut out that risk: The SafetyNet by LoJack. The technology, which has previously been used for finding stolen cars, has been transformed into devices for finding lost people with cognitive disorders.

“Basically the NEMLAC organization was contacted by LoJack and asked if we would participate in this program. It’s aimed at is those with Alzheimer’s, autism and other cognitive diseases, so if they go missing (their caregiver) contacts NEMLAC, who sends a person out with a transponder to pick up signals from the bracelets in an effort in locating people,” said Chief Erving Marshall of the Townsend Police Department, one of the towns involved in NEMLAC.

“It’s basically a LoJack (tracking device) for human beings,” said Sgt. Armando Herrera of the Pepperell Police Department.

NEMLAC received eight tracking units, which are scattered strategically throughout the approximately 50 participating towns. Pepperell is one of the towns in possession of the trackers.

“They try to get them in each region…so if for some reason we’re called in, there’s one close by,” said Herrera.

After subscribing through LoJack, a client is given a device to be worn as a bracelet; it is activated 24/7, each one with its own individual frequency.

“So if we’re called to search for somebody that has this item we punch the frequency into the tracking device and go in a circle until we have the strongest signal,” said Herrera.

Each device is operated using radio frequency, according to Jeremy Warnick, corporate communications manager at LoJack.

“Especially in wooded areas like Townsend and Pepperell, our technology is really important if a child goes deep into the woods, for example, GPS and cellular frequency can’t penetrate (the trees) and you lose the signal,” he said. “Radio frequency does not rely on satellite, so we can find someone in the deep woods, we can find someone in water It’s really powerful.”

Warnick said the company has clients fill out specific questionnaires regarding the traits of the involved person, both physical and psychiatric — ranging from if they feel strongly about a specific location to which side of their bodies they prefer to be approached on.

In addition, officers using the tracking device must be specially trained and certified through a nine-hour testing program. However, the test is easy to pass “if you pay attention in class,” said Herrera.

“The machines do all the work; all you do is just point it. You just have to make sure you put in the right frequency,” he said.

With the accuracy of the device, it is expected that missing clients would be found between 15 and 30 minutes after being reported missing.

“They (the trainers) said that if you can’t find the person in an hour, chances are they’re mobile (in a vehicle). You should be able to find them within a half hour,” said Herrera.

Because not every town is in possession of a tracker, nearby towns like Townsend rely on police officers like Herrera to respond in cases of such a missing person.

“I would probably be the first (to be contacted). If I wasn’t available, Westford has one, Littleton has one,” said Herrera.

According to Warnick, the technology has proved beneficial in several success stories already.

“We worked with MBTA police in Boston. A child in Boston who loves trains hopped on subway and had gone missing. The MBTA ended up locating him using our technology,” he said. “A kid in Quincy went missing. He went to ocean and had gotten in up to his neck, but we got to him within 20 minutes after he was reported missing.”

Although the technology is too new to the local area to have any statistics involving Middlesex County, Warnick said that in Marshfield, three people have been recovered using the bracelets. As far as failure rates, Warnick said he didn’t have any to share.

“Fortunately, we haven’t been a part of those (stories) which is great. We hope to keep it that way,” he said.

Interested parties can find contact information for LoJack at

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