JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. — After a crime like a burglary, the goal of the sheriff’s office is to return the stolen items back to the original owner. When the owner can’t be found the items go up for auction. In a move made by county commissioners this week, items can now be donated or auctioned online.
Josephine County Property Control Specialist Kari Lee said if you can name it, she probably has it stored at the county’s evidence facility.
“We have interesting items, like this, a World War I water cooled 50 caliber machine gun,” said Lee.
60,000 items ranging from chainsaws to computers, are stored in the 6,700 square foot facility.
“Anytime we serve a search warrant, or arrest someone, or someone turns in found property, all of that comes here,” said Lee.
The oldest item still stored as evidence is from 1957 and the amount of time something is kept varies.
“All of the suspects need to go through due process, and then I have to wait a period of time for appeals before I can get rid of anything,” said Lee.
Only then are items either auctioned off or destroyed. Now, there are two new options. The items cleared can now either be auctioned off online or donated to charity.
“This was a backpack that was recently turned in as found property, there’s no identification on it, there’s no reason some kid couldn’t get perfectly good use out of this now, rather than me just throwing this away,” said Lee.
Auctions use to be held in person every couple of years. Lee said these were both costly and time consuming to set up. But that has changed, making things much more efficient for her and the facility.
“That will give me the ability to make auctions bite sized pieces rather than waiting for me to have hundreds of items, I can do it when I have a basket of items, for example,” said Lee.
All money generated from the auctions goes back into the county’s general fund. As for that WWI machine gun, it is one of many things set to be destroyed from orders of the A.I.F.