DETROIT — Eli takes police work seriously — and seriously loves his toys.
So the German shepherd was thrilled, Troy police say, when his handler recovered one of his toys that a man had stolen during a training exercise. The alleged ball thief was issued a misdemeanor ticket for stealing police property.
It happened April 5 when Eli, his handler and other officers and police dogs were training in a field behind a Holiday Inn Express, with the officers laying scent tracks for the pups to follow. One officer left behind a toy for Eli to find.
A man started yelling at them through an open motel room window, police said, demanding to know what they were doing. The officer explained they were there training the dogs, and advised the man not to touch the property left in the field.
The officer then left to start the track some distance away.
"When the police canine successfully followed the scent, the dog toy was not where it was left," Troy police posted Wednesday afternoon on the department's Facebook page.
An officer found the man's white Ford Econoline van in the hotel parking lot — and spotted the toy ball in one of the cup holders.
The man, who is 40 and from High Point, N.C., came outside as police were impounding his vehicle. He was issued a misdemeanor citation for larceny of police property.
And Eli got his toy back.
"Eli ... is happy that his ball has been recovered," the Facebook post said.
Follow Ann Zaniewski on Twitter: @AnnZaniewski