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SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake Police Department has an evidence room full of stuff, and it wants to return as much of it as possible to the people who own it.
Police departments everywhere have rooms with shelves full of evidence with everything from toy guitars, guns and skateboards.
“We have, like the old saying goes, everything but the kitchen sink,” said Cody Nixon, Salt Lake City Police evidence technician. “I haven’t seen a kitchen sink yet, but we have about everything else.”
Nixon digs through a randomly selected box on one of the shelves and pulls out a plastic drink cup, covered with fingerprint dusting powder. There’s a woman’s beach sandal, several cellphones and some DNA swabs.
There are approximately 160,000 items that are stored in the basement of the old Salt Lake Public Safety building on 200 South.
Most of the items are related to a case of some kind; for example, a burglary. Such items have to be held in storage in case they need to be presented in court. When a case is wrapped up, the items can be released. Other items there are held for safe keeping, like personal belongings taken from someone who was arrested and taken to jail.
Once a month, the police department clears out what it can and tries to find the owners of this stuff. Most of the items go unclaimed, but about a thousand do get returned.
“The most common things we get rid of monthly is backpacks, purses, wallets, cell phones, knives, driver’s license, ID’s, credit cards. Bikes, we get a lot bikes,” Nixon said. “ It's just day in and day out, you never know what you're going to get.”
Police officers collect and deliver nearly 3,000 items every month to the evidence unit. Each item is tagged with a bar code and description and wrapped up. The information is put into a computer.
The police department tries to contact owners of the stored items by mail and by placing newspaper ads. So what happens to those items that remain unclaimed? “If it's a valuable item,” Nixon said, “it'll go to our auction. If it's not necessarily valuable but usable, we'll donate the items. If it's garbage or stuff with personal information or illegal contraband, those items get destroyed.”
Next Monday, Sept. 29, is the deadline for the latest items to be claimed. If you think there’s something that belongs to you, contact the evidence unit of the Salt Lake City Police Department at 801-799-3041. Make sure you bring proof of purchase receipts, photos or serial numbers to prove it.