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Lost treasures,
BYLINE: Austin L. Miller, Staff writer
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Ocala, Marion County, FL

Sue Livoti, property room manager for the Marion County Sheriff\'s Office, displays a wedding dress and other items turned into the department that people or deputies have found. The department keeps items for 90 days and if they are not claimed after that, they try to donate them to local organizations. Doug Engle/ Staff photographer

Local law agencies hold found items — but not forever

Tucked away in the back of the Marion County Sheriff's Office and the Ocala Police Department evidence areas are thrown away, lost and abandoned items found by citizens or law enforcement officials.

Lose something?

Check with the Ocala Police Department, 402 S. Pine Ave., or call 24-hour information line, 369-7000; or contact the Marion County Sheriff's Office, 692 N.W. 30th Ave., or call the 24-hour non-emergency line, 732-9111.

Among the found items: wallets, baseball cards, a $3,980 check that was not endorsed, an AK-47 assault rifle and a very nice wedding dress.

“That [dress] is an unusual item. We took pictures of it and displayed it at the Forest District Office. And so far, no takers,” said Sgt. David Redmond, director of the Sheriff's Office Forensic Unit.

Welcome to the law enforcement treasure chests otherwise called recovered property.

From Jan. 1 through Tuesday, the Sheriff's Office and OPD have 83 cases of property recovered. Recovered/abandoned properties are classified as items found by someone where proof of ownership is unknown.

Authorities say the goods are usually found by citizens walking along a roadway, or by law enforcement officials patrolling streets. The items generally are turned over to the respective agencies and stored in an evidence compound.

Officials hold onto them for 90 days, during which time the found items are advertised in the newspaper. If the item goes unclaimed, it typically is destroyed after 90 days. If it is of some use to the individual agency, however, it is retained for use or donated to a needy individual or organization.

In the case of the Sheriff's Office, all items valued at more than $100 are advertised in the newspaper. Those under $100 in value are kept in an area near the front desk at the main office, waiting to be claimed.

OPD crime scene technician DeAnna Morrow said all found items recovered by her agency are advertised in the newspaper.

Some found items, such as drugs, are destroyed as quickly as possible, officials say.

The Sheriff's Office and OPD both have had some odd finds. The items below, although past the 90-day window for being destroyed, remain in the recovery lockers in case they can be used to benefit the holding agency or another entity.

On Aug. 17, 2009, a beige Washburn guitar was found in a wooded area of the 1600 block of Northeast 25th Avenue and turned over to OPD.

On Nov. 3, 2009, a black briefcase that contained a laptop belonging to an employee of Florida Express Waste Management was found in the middle of the road at County Road 475B and Southwest 27th Avenue. It also was turned over to OPD.

A month later, at a car wash off Southeast Lake Weir Avenue, someone found two large cardboard boxes of collectible baseball cards, which also are in the possession of Ocala police.

The wedding dress was found by a Sheriff's Office Citizen On Patrol volunteer Feb. 6. It was lying on the side of State Road 40 near the Winn-Dixie Plaza in the Ocala National Forest.

Also in the possession of the MCSO is an AK-47 assault rifle found by a worker last month in the metal recyclables bin at the Marion County Landfill.

On April 5, a $3,980 check that was not endorsed was found on Southwest 80th Avenue, in the area of Southwest 100th Street. The people who found the document exhausted all efforts to locate the check writer before they turned it over to sheriff's deputies.

“The most items we receive are purses, wallets, cell phones, keys and driver's licenses,” Morrow said. “We try to locate the owners.”

Contact Austin L. Miller at 867-4118 or .

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