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Property held as evidence and stolen property

Stolen property that has been sold

If your goods have been stolen and then sold, you remain as the owner. The buyer of stolen goods is not the owner of the goods.

If you see your property for sale in a pawnbroker shop or second-hand shop you should inform the owner of the shop that the goods are your property and then report the matter to the local police station.

Return of property held as evidence

Police at a crime scene may collect evidence and this can include some of your property. This evidence, called 'exhibits', may assist in the investigation or in court if there is a trial or hearing.

There are very strict conditions and procedures to ensure that property is given an official record number, and is stored safely and securely.

How long will my property be held?

Property may need to be retained as evidence for the duration of a hearing and, if an appeal is made against a conviction, it may be held until the appeal is complete.

This means that it could be some time before the property is returned. In addition, some evidence in serious matters such as sexual assault may need to be retained indefinitely for DNA and scientific testing.

If property is not required for a hearing or court trial, then police officers should return the property to the victim of crime when:

  • there are no rival claims for ownership
  • the property has been photographed
  • return of the property will not affect court proceedings.

How can I get my property back?

Talk to the Officer in Charge (OIC) of your matter at the police station where it was first reported. If the OIC of the investigation is not available ask to speak to the supervising officer.

If the matter has gone to court, speak to the police officer in the first instance and they will advise if you need to talk to the prosecutor.

If the police advise that you can collect your property you should personally go to the police station. If you want someone to collect your property you will need to give written permission.

What if I do not collect my property?

Once you have been notified to collect your property, you need to advise police within 28 days about whether or not you want your property returned.

Property may be disposed of after 28 days, once the owner has been notified but the property has not been collected. In this situation unclaimed property is either disposed of by auction or other appropriate means.

In order for police to return property, you must advise police when you have changed address or telephone number, so that police can contact you.