7.020 - Found Property

Effective Date: 05/01/22

7.020-POL General Policy

This policy applies to all employees submitting found property to the Evidence Unit.

1. Employees Investigate Found Property

Employees will screen found property using the criteria in RCW 63.21.050 to determine if the finder has a legal right to claim ownership of the property.

The finder may claim ownership of the property if:

- There is no reasonable suspicion that the property is evidence of a crime, and

- The property is legal for the finder to possess, and

- The property is not an immediate danger to the public, and

- The owner of the property cannot be identified.

If the owner is unknown, see 7.020-TSK-2 An Employee Completing a Found Property Investigation with No Known Owner and the Finder Wishes to Make a Claim on the Property.

If the owner is known, see 7.020-TSK-3 Completing a Found Property Investigation with a Known Owner.

2. Finder May Immediately Claim Property Valued at $100 or Less

The finder of property valued at $100.00 or less and meets the listed criteria may claim the property immediately.

If the property is valued at more than $100.00, the sworn employee will take custody of the property.

Employees will complete a report and submit the item to the Evidence Unit if the finder does not wish to claim the property.  Employees will not complete a Found Property Report (Form 7.10).

3. Department Employees Cannot Claim Found Property

Sworn employees, either working for the department or for a secondary employer, will complete a report, and:

- For an unknown owner, see 7.020-TSK-1 Completing a Found Property Investigation with No Known Owner, or

- For an unknown owner and finder making a claim, see 7.020-TSK-2 Completing a Found Property Investigation with No Known Owner and the Finder Wishes to Make a Claim on the Property, or

- For a known owner, see 7.020-TSK-3 Completing a Found Property Investigation with a Known Owner

4. Employees Document Found Narcotics

Non-sworn employees will provide the found narcotics to a sworn employee for investigation.

Sworn employees recovering found narcotics without a known suspect will complete a report and follow the Mark43 Evidence/Property Disposition Instructions (Internal Link).

5. Sworn Employees Package All Found Money in a Currency Envelope

See manual section 7.080-Money Evidence.

6. Sworn Employees May Respond to a Complaint of an Abandoned Bicycle

Communications refers community members to SDOT’s General Information line at (206) 684-7623 to report abandoned bicycles.

The SDOT Street Use Complaints Investigator will locate the bicycle, record the serial number, photograph the bicycle, and attach a 72-hour removal notice.

SDOT will handle bicycles that are abandoned but not reported stolen. SDOT will contact SPD to check the bicycle for stolen.

For more information, see SDOT’s Abandoned Bikes website at the following link: Abandoned Bikes

For a recovered stolen bicycle, the sworn employee will complete a report and submit the bicycle to the Evidence Unit.

7.020-TSK-1 Completing a Found Property Investigation with No Known Owner

A sworn employee investigating found property with no known owner:

1. Completes a report listing “Property-Found” as the incident.

2. Determines if property can be released to the “Evidence Supervisor for Disposal” (see manual section 7.060-TSK-1 Employee Releasing Evidence) or submitted to the Evidence Unit as found property (see manual section 7.010 – Submitting Evidence).

7.020-TSK-2 Completing a Found Property Investigation with No Known Owner and the Finder Wishes to Make a Claim on the Property

A sworn employee investigating found property with no known owner and the finder wishes to make a claim on the property:

1. Reviews the finder’s claim on the found property using the listed criteria in 7.020-POL-1 (See manual section 7.030-POL-1 for firearms).

- If the property is illegal to possess, completes a report (the item is not found property if it is illegal to possess).

2. Completes a Found Property Report (Form 7.10) with the finder and:

- Obtains the finder’s signature on the form.

- Explains the “Notice to Finders” section on the back of the finders copy of the form.

- Gives the finder their copy of the form.

3. Takes possession of the found property.

- Property valued at $100.00 or less, the finder may take immediate custody of the property, unless the property is currency.

4. Completes a report listing “Property-Found” as the incident.

5. Places a barcode evidence label on the item and:

- Submits the found property to the Evidence Unit with a copy of the Found Property Report (Form 7.10).

- Submits the original Found Property Report (Form 7.10) to Data and provides the other copy to the finder.

7.020-TSK-3 Completing a Found Property Investigation with a Known Owner

A sworn employee investigating found property with a known owner:

1. Takes possession of the found property.

2. Completes a report listing “Property-Found” as the incident.

3. Returns the property to the owner, if possible, or submits the property into the Evidence Unit.

- Releases the found property directly to the owner, or completes and mails the owner a hard copy of the Evidence and Property Release Letter [Form 13.9(A)], and

Note: A phone call does not meet the legal requirement for proper notification. The Evidence Unit does not make owner notifications. 

- Sends a hard copy of the Evidence and Property Release Notice [Form 13.9(A)] to Data and attaches a PDF copy to the report, and

- If property is submitted to the Evidence Unit, and an Evidence and Property Release Letter [Form 13.9(A)] is mailed to the property owner, emails the Evidence Unit at spdevidenceunit@seattle.gov a completed Evidence/Property Release Authorization Form [Form 13.9(B)], and attaches a PDF copy to the report.

- Releases the property to the owner in Mark43 using the Mark43 Evidence/Property Disposition Instructions (Internal Link).