Police use Facebook to return goods to rightful owners

Recovered stolen property often goes unclaimed

Victoria police have taken the unique step of posting pictures of recovered stolen items on the department’s Facebook page.

The first images of acoustic and electric guitars, even a sound mixer board, were posted on Monday in the hopes of connecting owners with their property.

“This is just another tool to help us,” said Victoria police spokesperson Const. Mike Russell. “We’re not going to be able to put everything up there, obviously, that goes through our property and supply chain, but we’re going to try and get a couple of key pieces up there when we can.”

The initiative began when Victoria police Const. Kevin Nystedt, who investigates property crimes in his work with the department’s Street Crime Unit, came to Russell.

“He was just saying we need to have a way to engage the public, and get the information out about stuff we’re not able to track down the owners of,” said Russell, who suggested posting photos on the department’s Facebook page.

Recovered stolen property and items turned in to the department’s front counter are kept by police for 30 days. At that point unclaimed property is auctioned off.

In many cases, owners don’t notify police that their property has been stolen, Russell said.

Using Facebook in this way mirrors attempts by owners who post their own pictures of stolen items on online classified sites.

“Quite often people do that, but they still don’t call us (to report stolen property),” Russell said. “You can imagine an officer’s frustration when we have the system set up to help us get property back to people.”

People are urged to jot down the serial numbers of property in the event an item is stolen, and later recovered.

Check out VicPD’s photographic inventory of recovered property by visiting the department’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/VictoriaPoliceDepartment.

emccracken@vicnews.com