The Investigators

Feb 28, 2013 1:19 PM by Nichole Szemerei

Cycle of injustice? Is your property being sold at auction?

TUCSON - TPD holds on to lost and found and recovered stolen items anywhere from 30 to 90 days. If you don't claim your personal property by then, it's sold on the city's website.

Leif Abrell's bike was stolen last march and TPD found it the same day Abrell got in touch with them.

"I reported the bike stolen 7.5 hours later that day with a very thorough description and they did not bother to match the descriptions," says Abrell.

TPD doesn't accept pictures of stolen items. Even if it did, it wouldn't have made a difference in Abrell's case. His bike was auctioned off and he found out because a stranger figured it out.

"They saw the stolen cargo bike on my website, then saw it being auctioned, put two and two together and contacted me," says Michael McKisson who runs the local website Tucson Velo. It reports lost and stolen bikes.

"The ability to match the stolen bright orange tricycle to the property recovery report seems simple in my mind, if somebody just opened their eyes. I think most 3rd graders could accomplish this," says Abrell.

What Abrell really needed for the city's purposes was the bike's serial number.

"If a description is given to us, the description that we put in has to match up perfectly and that's very difficult to do. So, we really stress to the community to get their serial numbers off their bikes before anything like this can happen," says Sgt. Chris Widmer with the Tucson Police Department.

McKisson has seen this happen before with an Access mountain bike. The owner of that bike reported it stolen and gave TPD a serial number. It still ended up on the auction site, but luckily, the bike was returned to the owner before it sold.

McKisson says he understands officers have bigger things to worry about, but hopes his local network will keep this from happening.

"It's just one of those crimes that no one really cares that much about," he says.

"The police are holding onto property, but they don't seem to be managing it with a lot of skill right now," says Abrell.

The police department says it's working on a program for a citywide lost and found database, but doesn't have a deadline.

The bottom line, a serial number is your best bet for recovering stolen property.

If you need help from the investigators, email us at


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