ROXBURY, NJ – It was a dog-eat-steak world on Tuesday, at least for the two Morris County police dogs.
In a parking lot ceremony, the Roxbury Police Department gave 18-ounce ribeye steaks to Morris County Sheriff’s Office dogs Sigmund and Loco. The dogs, particularly K-9 Sigmund, led police to four Philadelphia men who stand accused of breaking into Ledgewood Powersports on Aug. 3.
“We have been working with the Morris County Sheriff's Office for a long time and last Thursday showed just how well we work together,” said Roxbury Police Chief Marc Palanchi. “Our department appreciates all the assistance we receive from the MCSO, so this seemed like the perfect time and way to say thanks.”
Roxbury Police spokeswoman Jennifer Dillard said the department picked up the steaks from Robxury Diner. Beforehand, the department and the sheriff’s office engaged in a bit of banter on Facebook, where the steak reward was first mentioned.
“Hey Morris County Sheriff’s Office, what kind of steak can we buy Sigmund and Loco?” asked Dillard in a Facebook post shortly after the burglary suspects were arrested. “Sky is the limit for our brothers.”
The sheriff’s office responded, writing, “Sigmund is (a) filet kind of guy” and advising that Loco “seems to prefer New York Strip.”
However, the sheriff’s office doubted its canine stars would be fussy, adding, “Both are hungry right now, so whenever you get to the store they’ll be waiting.”
Palanchi pointed out that the steaks were “kind of a way of saying `hey thanks,’” not only to the dogs but also to the officers who handled them: Morris County Sheriff’s Office Det. Sgt. Aaron Tomasini and Morris County Sheriff’s Office Detective Michael Carbone.
Palanchi said many people don’t realize that the K-9 Unit dog handlers are “called out almost daily,” often in the middle of the night, to help police in all sorts of investigations. “These guys are home,” he said. “They bring the dogs home with them. They’re in bed or they’re watching TV with their kids and they get up, they put all the stuff on and they come out.”
Palanchi said a Morris County K-9 officer recently moved to Roxbury, but noted “he wasn’t one of the guys there.” The chief said one of the dog handlers came to the 2 a.m. crime scene from near Hackettstown and the other from the Madison area.
“These guys get in their trucks and they drive,” Palanchi said. “They were here very quickly. They tracked and found them very quickly. They prevented us from being out, walking in those woods all night.”
By having the dogs show up, Palanchi was spared the need to call in extra men, he said. “The canine is doing the job of probably eight or nine guys because he can smell while we’re kind of just eyesight and walking. It saves us a ton of money on manpower and it brings it to resolution very quickly.”
The chief said the suspects were in custody only about an hour after police were alerted to the burglary. The men, Leon Foote, 18, Robert Vidra, 26, Angel Torres, 21 and Kyle Prit, 20, were charged with a number of crimes including burglary, criminal attempt, theft, resisting arrest, conspiracy and criminal mischief, police said.
“The longer we don’t find them, the more likely they get away … So I just thought it was a good time to say ‘Hey, we call you guys out all the time. Bad weather. Middle of the night. After hours.’ The steaks were for the dogs but it really was a gesture: ‘Thanks for coming out all the time.’”