Stolen items bound for auction

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 07:51 14/08/2014
Stolen phones
FAITH SUTHERLAND/FAIRFAX NZ

NEW HOMES: Constable Tina Lord with some of the stolen goods to be auctioned off if not claimed.

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Time is running out for the owners of hundreds of misplaced and stolen items waiting to be collected from the Palmerston North police station.

Cellphones, bicycles, tools, scooters, lawnmowers and computers are among the many items found or recovered by police that await collection.

Constable Tina Lord's job is to track down the owners of such items, a task made more difficult by the number of people who don't record the serial numbers of their property. She has been trawling for weeks though burglary and theft reports, and entering serial numbers of recovered items into the nationwide police system in an attempt to track down owners.

Despite her best efforts, much of the property in the Palmerston North station's storage room will go to an auction, at Turners Auctions, within the next month.

Items are kept at the station for three to six months.

"We would far rather return items to their owners than sell them," Lord said.

Recent successes included finding the owner of a tablet, stolen in Rotorua two months ago, and a computer taken from a school four years ago, she said. In both those cases, a serial number had been recorded.

About 70 per cent of the items police recovered were returned to their owners, and not necessarily because they were marked, she said.

Often when stolen property is recovered, it is through a search warrant, and the items taken will already be known.

But other items needed identifying marks, images, or serial numbers.

It was easy enough to use a smartphone or camera to take pictures of valuables and their serial numbers, and upload the images to the Snap website.

Run by police, it allows people to keep an electronic record, which can be given to police and insurance companies in the event of a burglary. For more information about marking and recording property, visit the Snap website, snap.org.nz.

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- Manawatu Standard

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