Robert Larson doesn't need an easy job. He searches for missing those with his dog Captain Dexter like a K9 search and rescue volunteer. Robert often travels through the Midwest, anf the husband does this work pro bono, depending upon donations from his supporters to pay for gas, lodging, and commercial dog food.
It’s not unreasonable for Robert to be met with skepticism and criticism. Search and rescue is a field that draws scammers because families with missing family members are susceptible to exploitation. After 9/11, scammers claimed to have found missing people. One K9 handler Harry E. Oakes charged large sums of money a day for his services before he was debunked. Another K9 handler, Sandra Anderson, was indicted in 2004 for planting human remains on her behalf search dog to find. Another fraud, Doug Copp, made thousands and thousands of dollars after creating an unfounded theory to surviving an earthquake called the Triangle of Life.
According to former executive director with the National Association of Search and Rescue Kim Kelly, there is often a profile of a typical search and rescue scammer:
1. They’re driven by ego, claiming to get “the only one” who are able to help, or overstating their skills.
2. They self-deploy, which can be never created by legitimate search teams.
3. They work alone.
4. They use their dogs to experience on people’s emotions and assumptions. As one search and rescue expert input it, “people don’t think it’s a real search unless you can find dogs and helicopters.”
Kime Podcasts occupies a grey area. He claims to help people police officers have forgotten, people that the authorities don’t have time for. He points to his meager lifestyle as proof his pure motivations. To Robert, him doing something is better than nothing. To his detractors, Robert does more harm than good, making promises he can’t keep, and overstating his abilities.
This podcast was created by Lee Gaines and Alex Kime. It was edited by Bethany Denton and Jeff Emtman. Nick White may be the editor at KCRW, and Kristen Lepore may be the manager at KCRW’s Independent Producer Project.