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A property room is a room or storage area that is part of or affiliated with a particular police department or law enforcement agency for the purpose of holding items obtained by the police. This secured room is used for items being held as evidence, as well as items that have been confiscated by the police and property that is being held pending further investigation. The contents of a property room are usually cataloged and carefully recorded during an investigation, and items that are forfeited to the police department may be auctioned off or donated to charity.
Sometimes also called a property and evidence storage office, the property room of a police department may be a literal room or may be a large warehouse. Satellite locations may also be used in districts in which storage needs exceed the limitations of a single room or location. Any facilities used as a property room are typically well guarded and secured both through surveillance and security systems that utilize various methods for protecting property. Since evidence for ongoing investigations may be kept in these locations, proper security and procedures to prevent tampering with such evidence is essential.
The contents of a property room often consist of evidence found during a police investigation, as well as property that is seized or confiscated by the police. Firearms or money found on a suspect, for example, will often be cataloged and held in such a room until an investigation is complete. Stolen property found on a suspect can also be held in a property room, though reclaiming such property can be difficult for its rightful owner. It is often suggested that any property be marked with a unique serial number, and that this number be documented and kept by the owner in case such property must be reclaimed.
Unclaimed goods left in the property room of a police department are typically auctioned off or donated to charity after a certain period. The money raised in such auctions often goes to the state or city in which the department operates, and is used for public projects and budgetary needs. Certain goods, those that are not dangerous or illegal, may also be given to charity organizations, though this depends on the policies of individual police departments. Some firearms left in a property room may also be given to the police department for use in firing ranges or forensic ballistics testing.