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Hammond Police Department may sell evidence online

The Hammond Police Department may be turning to an online police auction website to sell evidence and unclaimed goods that fill up the limited storage room.

Hammond Police Chief Rick Coltrain said the department doesn't currently have any evidence items, but when it does acquire more, it may use to sell those items not retrieved by the owners after the required wait period.

Coltrain said everything from bikes found in bushes to chairs and tools that fell out of pickup trucks can be placed in the evidence room. He said in the best-case scenario, property would be returned to owners, but they rarely come forward to claim their items after the department posts notices of the found items.   

The Hammond Police Department does not have a large space to store evidence items, so when evidence from old cases or damaged and unclaimed items start to stack up on the shelves, it's important to get rid of the evidence.

Coltrain said many of the items they find are "not always in the best of shape."

In addition to limited space, the police department has limited resources to coordinate, promote and conduct live auctions. The Property Room website seems like an hassle-free alternative to having a small auction in the village, since Property Room handles all the auction details, from transporting the items to cleaning and testing them. While the online-auction site does take a percentage of the profits from the evidence sales, the rest of the money goes back to the police department's general fund.

Many other police departments in the country have turned to the Property Room to sell evidence items collecting dust on their storage shelves.

According to the Property Room website, it serves more than 1,500 law enforcement and other public agencies nationwide. "Founded and managed by former police officers, Property Room harnesses the power of the Internet to quickly move items out of police property rooms, reduce personnel costs and generate revenue well beyond traditional police auction methods. And there is no cost to the participating police or sheriff's department."

Coltrain said the Hammond Police Department hasn't signed up to the program yet, but hopes to get involved in the program before the evidence room fills up again.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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