And we're not talking inexpensive items among those abandoned or found. We're talking bikes, iPods, tools, cell phones, jewelry, computers, stereos, weapons, musical instruments, sporting equipment ... the list goes on. And, yes, even money is turned in.
"In this community, we really do have people that will turn in wallets with cash," said Detective Mike Hamideh.
The evidence unit receives an average of 2,000 new items a month, including criminal evidence, said Kim Crispin, evidence technician. The criminal evidence is obviously stored until a court orders it can be released, but people can claim found property immediately.
"For whatever reason they don't come get their property back," Crispin said. "It's sad. And a lot of it, we can't find owners."
Evidence technicians try their darnedest to reunite orphaned property with its rightful owner by contacting owners whenever possible or even mailing it to out-of-state residents in some cases. Even if a property owner doesn't have definitive proof of ownership, police will work with them as long as they can provide some sort of concrete details, such as where it might have been found or what it contains.
But a lot of the property like the giant American flag that, folded, is more than two feet tall has no obvious clues about ownership.
Neither do a number of the newest additions to the evidence room: lost property from the city's summer Twilight concerts. The private security company hired to maintain order just turned in the last of the stuff that was left behind keys, watches, wallets, purses and cell phones a few days ago, Crispin said.
Typically, the police department holds most found property for a minimum of 90 days from when items are received to give people a chance to claim them. After that and to make room for all the new stuff the department starts the disposal process.
Items such as clothing, backpacks, tools, kitchen items and stationery that are in decent shape are donated to a rotating list of local charities. Bicycles go to the Salt Lake City Collective. Unclaimed weapons are destroyed. Typically they're placed in the trunk of a vehicle scheduled for crushing, police said.
The potentially valuable items musical instruments, computers, electronics and jewelry are sent to public auction, giving interested residents a chance to bid on them. The proceeds from those auctions go to the city's general fund.
The next auction is Dec. 8 at TNT Auction, 2353 N. Redwood Road in Salt Lake City.
Anyone who thinks their lost property might be in the evidence unit can call 801-799-3041 between 8 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. for more information.
Lost and found
If you've misplaced something in Salt Lake City, it might be in the police department evidence room. You're welcome to check by calling 801-799-3041 between 8 a.m. and 3:45 p.m.
The next auction for valuable items that have not been reclaimed is Dec. 8, beginning at 9 a.m. at TNT Auction, 2353 N. Redwood Road in Salt Lake City. Visit www.tntauction.com for more information.