Tracking system can help locate people prone to wandering off

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ST. CHARLES COUNTY, MO (KPLR) - Thursday will mark two weeks since 12-year-old Jonathan Shay wander off from his Phelps County home.  Searchers have focused on an area near St. James and near the Meramec River.  Shay is autistic.  Family members believe he is hiding and does not want to be found.

St. Charles County Police Cpl. Steve Case is heartbroken over the situation.  He heads up training for a program known as Care Trak.  People at a high risk of wandering off can wear a wristband that emits a radio signal.  Police can track that signal if the person goes missing.  Each client’s wristband has a different frequency.

“It can track from up to a mile on the ground to up to 5 miles in the air,” said Case.

It’s a program St. Charles County Police hope will make finding missing persons easier.

“My oldest son has autism, so I’m familiar with the diagnosis,” said Case.

He says the device has yet to be put to a real-life test in St. Charles County, but has been perfect in other cities across the country.

“A lot of people live in constant fear that grandma is going to wander away, or a child is going to wander away,” said Case.  “This won’t keep them from getting away, but it makes them a lot easier to find.”

Case says tracking by a radio frequency is far more accurate than using a GPS.  He uses an example of looking for a child at mall.  He says GPS would not be able to pinpoint the location inside the mall.

“With this system I can tell you exactly what chair he’s sitting in at the food court in the mall,” Case said.

Anyone interested in the program must meet certain requirements.  They must live in St. Charles County.  They must have a medical diagnosis that they are prone to wandering.  They must have a 24-hour caregiver and must not have access to a car.

For more information contact the St. Charles County Department of Community Health and Environment at 636-949-7400 or email Cpl. Case at SCase@sccmo.org.​