Evidence is considered property that can be used in court to prove or support the charge of a criminal act. It is collected by the department and stored in the agency’s evidence room.
All evidence is strictly safeguarded and a chain of custody is thoroughly documented until it is returned to the owner or disposed of. If the Police Department has an item of yours that was collected as evidence and you have a need for its return, here is some information you should know:
- Evidence may be released prior to adjudication only with authorization from the investigating officer.
- Property, other than contraband and some firearms, may be released to an owner once it is no longer needed for investigative or court purposes.
- Owners must provide identification prior to the release of property.
- Owners must complete an Article Return Form before the property may be released.
- A court disposition order or officer authorization is needed for the release of evidentiary property.
- Contraband will not be returned.
Similar to evidence, property is collected and held by the agency. However, instead of being used in court proceedings, property is held for safekeeping purposes. Other than contraband or evidence, items either found by an employee, or turned over to an employee by a citizen, fall into this category. The owner of the property may or may not be known.
- Unclaimed or abandoned property can be turned over to any officer and is stored by the Evidence Unit. Finders of property have no rights of claim to found property if the owner cannot be located.
- Property with a monetary value or items that appear to be stolen property will be recovered and an aggressive effort will be made to identify the origin of the property.
- Abandoned property that has no evidentiary, monetary, or serviceable value will not be collected by the Department. Unless these items pose a specific safety hazard, examples would include newspaper boxes, appliances, broken televisions, real estate signs, traffic barrels, traffic cones, etc.
The Pooler Police Department makes a substantial effort to determine the owner of abandoned property. If the legal owner is known, or identified, he/she will be contacted to come pick up the property. If property needs to be shipped or mailed, the department will assist in getting this accomplished at the owner’s expense. To pick up property please bring with you:
- A photo ID to verify identity.
- Proof of ownership, such as a proof of purchase, photographs, videos, etc. A thorough description of the property may also be used to determine ownership.
- Found property and safekeeping items will be processed through the superior court after 90 days if an owner cannot be located or if the located owner fails to respond to written notification.