If you don’t claim your stolen items, you may find them at an RCMP auction - InfoNews

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If you don’t claim your stolen items, you may find them at an RCMP auction

Stolen bikes seized from a Kelowna residence by RCMP, August 26, 2020.
Image Credit: RCMP / Press release
September 17, 2020 - 7:30 AM

Whether it’s bicycles, tools or household items, Thompson Okanagan police have their hands full trying to track down stolen goods.

Last week, the Kamloops RCMP recovered thousands of dollars in stolen property from a residence in Brocklehurst and subsequently arrested two prolific thieves. Although the items are now out of the wrong hands, it may be a while before they find their way back to their rightful owners.

READ MORE: Police arrest two prolific Kamloops thieves, find $1K worth of stolen property

"We can’t return an item to someone if we can’t actually guarantee it belongs to them,”  Sgt. Matt Van Laer with the Kamloops RCMP said.

That’s why police always encourage the public to record serial numbers, not just for bicycles, but for construction equipment and valuables, too.

"If somebody can come to us and say ‘my bike was stolen and here’s the serial number,' if we locate that bicycle... then it’s an easy phone call,” he said.

If you didn't record serial numbers for your stolen property, you can still get it back, you’ll just have to prove it’s yours. Having a police report on file is particularly helpful.

“Sometimes people will suffer a break-in, into a shed or a garage, and they may not call the police,” Van Laer said.

“If we recover that stuff we won’t have a trace of it on a police file, so that makes it harder for us to come back to you.”

READ MORE: Kelowna RCMP returns more than $10,000 worth of stolen bikes in one week

If police seize stolen goods that include your items, they will be able to give you a call and return them if you've previously reported them stolen.

Property Crime investigators cross-reference the previous break-in reports with the items seized by RCMP, so making a report every time you’re the victim of theft is a good idea.

If you did not record your serial numbers or make a report, there’s still a chance you can get your items back. But you'll have to remember exactly what they look like.

“That’s the difficult part,” he said. “We have to ask, did it have any identifiable marks, is there anything you recall about your item, is there any damage only you would know."

In some cases, stolen items are needed as evidence, which means you'll have to wait for them to go through the courts before you can get them back.

"If the evidence is in a court proceeding it could months before the court releases it," Kelowna RCMP officer Sgt. Darren Michaels said. 

"Until the court proceedings are complete, we cannot return it."

However, this lengthy process can sometimes be circumvented.

"Nine times out of ten, if we have pictures, and we have a statement from the owner… we can also present that as evidence in court," Van Laer said. 

Usually, in the course of a typical stolen property case, the goods can be returned to their rightful owner, he said. 

Typically, the RCMP holds onto unclaimed items for 90 days. When the rightful owner can't be found, all items go to auction. 

In Kamloops, seized items are stored at the main RCMP detachment on the North Shore, Van Laer said. When unclaimed items pile up, everything of little value is destroyed and the remainder is collected by Dodds Auctions and sold in Vernon. 

Cpl. Jocelyn Noseworthy explained that in Kelowna, if the owner cannot be found, seized stolen items are auctioned off and items of no value are destroyed. 

"If we have seized a bike that we believe is stolen but we are unable to locate the owner here in Kelowna after a prescribed amount of time, we donate the bike to a local charity," she said.

"They auction the bikes off."

This serves as a lesson to those who become a victim of theft— if you didn't report your items stolen, you'll want to reach out to RCMP sooner rather than later. 


To contact a reporter for this story, email Brie Welton or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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