City of Melrose

Police FAQs
What should I do with found property?
We have handled everything from thousands of dollars in cash to large portable generators. The more common items are purses, wallets, small amounts of cash, drugs, stereos, hand tools, eye glasses, and keys. The most common item reported as "found" are bicycles! (See question 3
What should I do with found property?
  1. The law requires a person to make a reasonable effort to return found property. This is to prevent stolen items from being claimed as "found". It also protects the finder from the possibility of possessing stolen property that was found legitimately. By making a reasonable effort, it eliminates the possibility of a criminal charge against a finder for possessing stolen property. Making a reasonable effort to return found property can be accomplished a couple of different ways.

One way a reasonable effort can be made is by running an ad in the local newspaper. This method however could cause aggravation to the finder who may receive false claims for the property. Another way to make a reasonable effort would be to turn the property over to police custody. There are three advantages when turning found property over to the police.

First Advantage! The finder does not have to deal with false claims nor does the finder need to give out personal information such as a phone number or address to a person making a claim to the property.

Second Advantage! Submitting the property to the police gives the rightful owner a chance of regaining their property back. Found property will be held for 90 days. If it is not claimed during that period of time, the police will contact the finder and return the found property to them if they want it. The police watch for recent and incoming theft reports to see if any reported stolen property matches the property you found.

Third Advantage! If the property was not matched to a victim and remains unclaimed, after 90 days have passed you will have a legitimate claim to the property. A valid paper trail is on record at the police department showing you made a reasonable effort to get the property returned to its rightful owner. If the found property is unclaimed, you will be contacted by the police and asked if you are still interested in the property. If you do not want the property it is destroyed if damaged or has no significant value (usually less than $5.00) If the property has some significant value and the finder still does not want it, then it is placed in the city auction.

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