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Woman who had wandered from group home found with help from tracking device, Suffolk police say

With help from a tracking device, Suffolk authorities quickly located a vulnerable woman who had left a group home for the developmentally disabled Monday night in Riverhead.

The 21-year-old woman disabled a door alarm and left the Aid to the Developmentally Disabled home at 63 Lakeview Dr. on Monday night, the facility's manager, Andrea Robinson, told the sheriff's office.

Deputies responded at about 7 p.m. and immediately locked onto a GPS signal emitted by a special wrist band the woman was wearing.

The deputies found the woman in a densely wooded area nearby within 13 minutes, police said.

The woman was taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center with minor cuts to her arms, legs and feet, according to police.

Tracking equipment from Florida-based nonprofit Project Lifesaver has been offered through the sheriff's office since 2007. Lt. Christopher Brockmeyer said officials are seeking to expand and promote its use among organizations and homes that care for individuals prone to wandering.

"When our responders went down and activated their equipment, it was an immediate receiving of the signal from the person's bracelet," he said. "It was evidence of how the technology could work in the right circumstances."

Caregivers can apply through the sheriff's office, which also coordinates training for local agencies. Once accepted, caregivers receive a waterproof transmitter, tester, battery and wristband for $300. The transmitter signals are unique to each registered person.

"It's another tool for families or homes that have vulnerable individuals that tend to wander off," Brockmeyer said.

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