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How long did it take to get your gun back?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by LocoGringo, Oct 4, 2021.

  1. LocoGringo

    LocoGringo Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2013
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    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    The story is back in 2008 I had a pistol stolen out of my car. I reported it stolen and chalked it up to "forever gone". Well, about a year and a half ago I got a call from the Knoxville Sheriff's office in the literal middle of the night that my pistol had been recovered but was currently involved in a criminal case. I assume it is evidence, but I don't know what kind of case. I don't even have the contact information of the investigator. Since they successfully contacted me about my pistol and know my phone number and that it belongs to me, will it automatically come back to me after the case is finished or do I need to do something more to follow up?

    After writing this, I guess I'll have to contact the Sheriff's office, but does anyone have experience with this type of situation?
     
  2. ms6852

    ms6852 Member

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    TEXAS
    I am surprised that you received a call almost 13 years later, will be interesting to find out when you finally get it....if ever.
     
    LocoGringo likes this.
  3. RickD427

    RickD427 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2010
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    Location:
    King County
    The answer is going to depend on the state in which the weapon was recovered. Different states have different rules.

    In California, you must apply to the State Attorney General for the return of your weapon, and then you have to deliver the state issued "Release Letter" to the agency holding the firearm. Even though the state does not require the registration of most firearms, then weapon must be registered to you before it can be returned.

    I tried to locate a "Knoxville County Sheriff's Office" to better respond to your question, but there doesn't seem to be any such agency in the United States. The closest that I could find were "Knox County" Sheriff's Offices in Maine, Indiana, Nebraska and Tennessee. If you're in one of those places, best to check with the concerned agency.
     
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  4. Ranger99

    Ranger99 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2021
    Messages:
    401
    ^ ^ ^ this ^ ^ ^
    I've only gotten one stolen gun back,
    and if I hadn't spotted it at a pawn shop
    about a mile away, I'd have never got
    it back. The poeleece said " that's impossible. We have a full time pawn
    shop detail checking for stolen goods. "
    Well that just goes to show the kind
    of job they did. Missing a reported
    stolen firearm when it's your specific job?
    After much red tape and hassle, I finally
    had to get papers from a court official
    and drive to the property warehouse and
    claim my now rusty firearm. I had my
    purchase receipt and all the paperwork
    and still had to show all that in court
    to reclaim my own goods.
    More recently I went through a similar
    scenario to reclaim my camera, the only
    thing the poeleece recovered out of
    a truck full of items I had stolen.
    The detective said if not for the serial
    number I wouldn't have got it back,
    even though I had my name all over the
    camera and case both.
     
  5. LocoGringo

    LocoGringo Member

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    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    I was in a hurry when I typed this. Sorry, it's Knox County Sheriff's office in Tennessee.
     
  6. LocoGringo

    LocoGringo Member

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    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    I'm curious what state you're in. I don't even know if I still have the receipt for that pistol.
     
  7. RickD427

    RickD427 Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    King County
    That's not unusual at all. I've recovered many stolen weapons during my LE career years after they were stolen.

    The typical "Recipe" for the recovery of a stolen firearms goes like this: 1) The weapon is stolen in some form of burglary, 2) The weapon's serial number gets entered into the NCIC system, 3) Years or decades later, the weapon comes to the attention of law enforcement and the serial number is queried.

    There are a few cases where there is evidence at the scene of the initial crime that leads to investigation and recovery, but most crimes like this are worked backwards, we recover the stolen weapon and then work back as far as we can to the initial crime.
     
    MrShooter, ColtPythonElite and ms6852 like this.
  8. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

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    Not a gun, but the similarities will be there. I used a knife in a law enforcement capacity attempting to save the life of a known criminal with terrorist ties. The knife was confiscated by state police internal affairs for their investigation, then went to the FBI for theirs into the terrorism ties of the criminal. Open and shut case, with a clear chain of custody. I didn't get the knife back for 2 years. In those two years I had a point of contact with the state police investigative division and then the FBI. Every few months I would call the POC to ask about my knife or they would call me to come in and answer questions about their case. Where I could ask about my knife. I established a desire to get my knife back. Right around the two year mark, they arranged to release the knife back to me as the investigations were closed. Again, open and shut case with the criminal and the charges against him. 2 years for that. With issues you are looking at a lot longer. The key take aways are this:

    1) Establish a rapport with whoever is the point of contact at the holding agency of your firearm. You want your firearm back and ask for it regularly without being annoying.
    2) They may ask questions about when, how the firearm was stolen from you. Give them the best and most truthful information you have. Cooperate. It will aid in their investigation and may help them get the firearm back faster. Depending on the crime it was used in.
    3) It is going to take awhile. Think of a reasonable number of how long that is for you. Then double it. It is probably closer to that. Be patient.
    4) Your gun is most likely sitting in an evidence locker in a plastic bag. So if/when you get it back it will be in rough shape.
     
    ms6852 likes this.
  9. pairof44sp

    pairof44sp Member

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    Jul 4, 2020
    Messages:
    782
    Just an off the cuff opinion: you won’t get it back unless there is an acquittal (and maybe not even then).

    If the gun is going to be an exhibit in a case, it will remain an exhibit forever
     
  10. RickD427

    RickD427 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2010
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    Location:
    King County
    There's some good, and some really bad information provided above.

    Anytime that you use a weapon (irrespective of whether its a firearm, a knife, or a shovel) in a defensive use of force, plan on it remaining in law enforcement custody until all criminal charges are resolved. In many jurisdictions, you may also see it held through any period available for appeals. Don't blame the law enforcement agency, blame the Confrontation Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

    Doubling your first estimate of how long it may take is a good start. I might even triple it.

    While the weapon is being held, its evidentiary value must be preserved. That's means no cleaning, no alterations, and no handling, unless done for a forensic purpose. That may very well diminish the value of a firearm over time, but the alternatives (like cleaning and oiling) are going to compromise the evidence value of the firearm. Firearms don't get stored in plastic bags. Proper storage is one of the first things taught to evidence custodians.

    A lot of folks try to suggest ways that a firearm could be returned to it's owner while criminal proceedings are underway, but you gotta remember that the defendant (or potential future defendant) has a stake in that decision, and they have a right to corrective measures (like a dismissal of charges) if their rights are not preserved.

    No court exhibit remains an exhibit forever. Courts are mindful of property rights, but they're also concerned with due process rights, and they place a higher value on the due process rights. Every state that I'm aware of has a mechanism for firearms to be ordered destroyed if they were used in a crime by their owner, or with the knowledge of their owner. The exact provisions vary between the states. No state that I'm aware of allows the permanent taking of a firearm from a crime victim.
     
    Frank Ettin, pairof44sp and ms6852 like this.
  11. Hooda Thunkit

    Hooda Thunkit Member

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    Location:
    Oklahoma, out in the red dirt.
    I had a pistol stolen from me during a burglary, back in 1994 or so. Window forced, house ransacked, etc. I am almost certain I knew who the culprit was.

    The county Sheriff wasn't even interested in coming out to the house, but I did report the serial # and my name, in an over-the-phone report. I never even received a copy of the report, despite several attempts.

    Along about 1998 or so I get a call from the Big City PD nearby, they have my pistol. I can come to the property room and fetch it.

    I show up, and after the expected identification and waiting process, I receive my pistol (although they wouldn't release the ammo). It looks pretty much the same it did when it was stolen. After a short conversation with the Officer, I get the recovery story -

    Turns out, shortly after my pistol was stolen, a citizen was accosted on a street corner by a thug with a gun. Said citizen took the pistol from the wannabe thug, and beat on said thug for a short while. Thug runs off, probably crying, probably heading to be comforted by Mom.

    Citizen calls cops, and says "Find out who owns this pistol, that's who accosted me."

    LEO runs #, my report pops up. They held the pistol for some time, finally purged the property room, I get my pistol back.

    The system actually worked !
     
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  12. eastbank

    eastbank Member

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    Jul 30, 2009
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    4,660
    i had a rifle stolen years ago, a rem 700 3006. i get a call from the state police asking me if i found my rifle, i said if you can,t find how in h** to you think i can find it. the lady just laughed.
     
  13. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Member

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    7,833
    Location:
    SouthEastern FL
    Had a revolver stolen during a vehicle burglary in late 1989. I was in LE at the time, but the burglary occurred outside my agency's jurisdiction. It was reported to the county sheriff's office and entered as stolen.

    By 1992, I'd left the profession and had a new phone number and address two counties away. I was notified that my gun had been recovered by a large city agency back in the original county and was available for pickup. After a drive-by shooting in that city, a car chase had ensued that ended in four suspects bailing from a wrecked stolen car. All four threw down guns before being apprehended; mine was one of them. It had been determined that no one had been shot with my gun, so it was released to me. There was no ammunition in it.
     
  14. Tirod

    Tirod Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2008
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    5,219
    Location:
    SW MO
    Local militaria collector and FFL was broken into and pistols stolen. He had his book descriptions and serial numbers of course. In about a week after his careful online searching they pop up in KC for sale on the internet. Most of the smarter perps avoid pawnshops etc now as the police do distribute the descriptions and they don't want to be outed trying to sell it. His were nowhere to be found at pawns - 150 mile radius.

    Now they reach out, steal it, go home hundreds of miles away and retail it on the net. YES, the firearms were recovered and the perp confirmed and charged. All because of the diligent work of a knowledgeable owner who understood what it takes to find them. Search is your friend. It took about 6 months to get them back.

    I do commiserate with those who have guns stolen from their home. A vehicle, no, not so much. It's the primary source for stolen handguns now (next is glass storefront breakins) and we need to clean up our act and quit pretending it's safe to leave them in cars and trucks.
     
  15. pairof44sp

    pairof44sp Member

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    That’s you need the acquittal
     
  16. RickD427

    RickD427 Member

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    Dec 25, 2010
    Messages:
    270
    Location:
    King County
    I'm not sure that you've got a full sentence here, or that I fully capture what you're saying.

    There is no need for an "acquittal" in order for a firearm that was entered into evidence to be returned to its owner.

    If the owner was the defendant in the criminal case and there was a conviction, it's a pretty sure bet the weapon will be destroyed. If the owner was acquitted of all charges, and there is no other defendant, then the weapon will likely be returned. But the same is true if there is a failure to convict and there is no refiling.

    If the owner was not the defendant in the criminal case, and was not involved in providing the weapon to the defendant, then it's pretty much irrelevant if there was an acquittal or not.
     
  17. Pudge

    Pudge Member

    Joined:
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    646
    Location:
    Tioga County, PA
    So, years ago, around Christmas, I picked up a used S&W model 60 at a local gun shop. It was a nice carry gun and I carried it. That spring I stopped at another shop about 30 miles away. He didn't have as much inventory as he had in the past, I asked why, he said he had a robbery. Asked what he lost, checked serial numbers and sure enough I was carrying a stolen gun. I called the investigating officer, he apologized, but confiscated the weapon. After about a year, I started receiving monthly checks for $20-$30, the thief had to make restitution. Another year, and I was back at the shop that got robbed, and sure enough, there it was, for sale. So I bought it, again. I don't know, about a 4 year process, but there was no acquittal, and the shop got its gun back.

    About 8 years ago a different shop was robbed, some nice stuff I was interested in disappeared. (The shop owner was a contestant on season 8 of Alone). Caught the guys who stole the guns with the guns, no restitution, and the guns haven't been returned. There's no acquittal, and without one, I don't think she'll ever see those guns again. Same area of the same state, very different outcomes. I think the answer is, "it depends".
     
  18. bullseye308

    bullseye308 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2007
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    2,565
    Location:
    Smyrna Tennessee
    I had a pistol stolen around 97-98 and reported it with the serial as such. I showed the box and receipt to the officer that came to make the report. I called the police about every 2 years to see if they found it and about 16 years later they called me saying they had recovered it. About 4 months later I got a call to come to the station and pick it up. They only asked for me ID and signed one form and was outta there with my pistol. This was in middle Tennessee.
     
  19. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    30,475
    Location:
    Florence, Alabama
    A club member here was burglarized, his guns and all other portable valuables stolen, and the crooks set his house on fire to conceal evidence. Fortunately they were not good arsonists and the house was not badly damaged.
    He did a full theft report with make, model, and serial number of all items. No further action from the PD.
    The only way he ever recovered a very few of his guns was to haunt the gun shows and pawn shops for 200 miles around over several years and show the police report when something turned up.

    On the other hand, when I was burglarized and all the guns I had laid out for use, cleaning, or tinkering were stolen, the PD called me the second night after. The thief had wrecked his stolen car, fleeing from his attempt to break into an alarmed business. Several of my guns were still in the car. The responding officers simply handed them back, no paperwork. They recovered the rest of my guns from his room at Momma's house and all I had to do was sign a receipt at the station to recover them. Momma was not best pleased by all this. Maybe everything was simple because it was a juvie.

    I lost another one, I suspect to a window installer's employee. Its serial number is still in the system about 13 years down the road.
     
  20. jmorris

    jmorris Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2005
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    18,302
    A friend of mine had one stolen and it was more than a decade before he got it back. It had been recovered and he was notified much earlier but they told him they needed to keep it as evidence….I have to wonder what they would have done if the thief stole his dog.?…
     
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  21. MechAg94

    MechAg94 Member

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    Sounds like it depends a lot on the local lawyers and bureaucrats in that jurisdiction.
     
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