[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Town Commissioners of the Town of Bel Air 3-11-1980 by Ord. No. 310 as Ch. 14, Art. 1 of the 1980 Code. Amendments noted where applicable.]
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings set forth:
- The Chief of Police or his successor in office or his designee and his successor in office.
The Chief of Police of Bel Air is designated as the official custodian of each and every article or object of personal property lost, stolen, confiscated or abandoned, which property is not in the lawful custody of any other person or court, and which property has been delivered to the Chief of Police or one of his subordinates for care, custody and control.
The custodian shall keep in his custody all articles of personal property seized or held as evidence, which property has been delivered to the custodian or one of his subordinates for care, custody and control for use in a pending or prospective trial, unless otherwise ordered by the court having jurisdiction or upon the proper authorization of the Town Counsel or the State's Attorney for Harford County, until the final disposition of any pending charges, including appeals or the lapse of time for filing an appeal. Thereafter, unless ordered to the contrary by the court having jurisdiction, the custodian or his designee shall make disposition of such property in accordance with the provisions of this chapter hereinafter set forth.
All lost, stolen, confiscated, or abandoned property, which property has been delivered to the custodian for care, custody and control, not being held pending the disposition of charges pursuant to § 360-3 shall be subject to disposition according to the provisions of §§ 360-5 through 360-10 unless otherwise provided in this chapter or ordered to the contrary by any court.
The custodian shall examine any such property and, if the identity of the owner is readily available to the custodian from public records available to him or otherwise known to him, the custodian shall notify the apparent owner by phone or, if unable to contact by phone, by United States first-class mail, postage prepaid, to the last known address of such apparent owner, mailed within a reasonable time after identification of the apparent owner, describing the property and stating that the same is held by the custodian and may be sold or otherwise disposed of unless claimed within 60 days of the giving or mailing of such notice.
If any such property remains unclaimed 60 days after the same is no longer required to be held in evidence, pursuant to § 360-3 or 60 days after the mailing of any letter of notice provided for in § 360-5, whichever is the longer time, such property may be retained by the custodian and kept for use by the Town for training programs or otherwise disposed of from time to time by the custodian or his designee as hereinafter set forth.
Bicycles, tricycles, or other articles made for use by children may be sold as hereinafter provided or may, as an alternative, be given either directly or by making the same available for distribution through religious, charitable, civic or other organizations or institutions; provided, however, that at least 10 days prior to any such disposition, a public notice of intention to dispose of any such articles shall be published in a local newspaper published in Harford County with circulation in the Town of Bel Air, together with a description thereof, and the rightful owner may claim any such article within the period between the final publication and donation upon satisfactory proof of identity and ownership.
Any such property may be sold at public sale, provided that the custodian shall cause to be published in a local newspaper, not less than 10 days before such sale, a notice setting forth a description of each article to be sold, the time, date, and place of sale and that any person who claims to be the owner of or claims any interest in any article so described may appear at the Bel Air Police Department before the time and date set for sale to reclaim the same upon presentation of satisfactory proof of identity and ownership of such article.
Such property which consists of jewelry, gems, watches, precious metals or other property having a unique value, including firearms, or which in the judgment of the custodian may bring a higher price if sold on sealed bids may, at the discretion of the custodian, be sold either at public sale as heretofore provided or to the highest bidder, after the solicitation of sealed bids from at least three regular dealers in the particular type of property. No such sale shall be conducted until there shall have been published in a local newspaper published in Harford County with circulation in the Town of Bel Air a notice setting forth a description of each article to be sold, the time, date, and place of bid opening and that any person who claims to be the owner of or claims any interest in any article so described may appear at the Bel Air Police Department before the time and date set for opening of such bids to reclaim the same upon presentation of satisfactory proof of identity and ownership. Any person desiring to submit a sealed bid may do so, and such bids shall be opened and the property shall be sold to the highest bidder at the time and place specified in such notice; provided, however, that the right to reject any and all bids shall be reserved, and any and all bids may be rejected if deemed too low or for any other reason. Sales of firearms shall be made only to properly licensed dealers.
Whenever any property is retained by the Town as provided for in this section, it shall be added to the Town's capital assets inventory, which shall also indicate the location of the assigned property and the designated use thereof.
All such property may be reclaimed by the lawful owner upon proof of identity and ownership satisfactory to the custodian, or his designee, if claimed before the donation or sale thereof.
Failure to make a claim of ownership within the time limits prescribed in this chapter, and before the sale or donation of any article, shall forever bar the owner or any person claiming ownership by, through or under the owner from making any subsequent claim of ownership.
If any property is advertised for sale or donation as in this chapter but is not sold or donated according to the advertisement, the same may again be advertised for sale or donation according to the provisions of this chapter and sold or donated accordingly.
If any property has been twice advertised for sale or donation, the same may be destroyed, donated, kept, or used by the Town without further notice if a claim of ownership is not made within the time limit prescribed in the second notice, and the owner or any person claiming ownership by, through, or under the owner shall thereafter be barred from making any claim of ownership to such property.
All proceeds of a sale shall be paid to the Town Treasurer, who shall deposit the same in the general fund of the Town.
Unless ordered to the contrary by a court of competent jurisdiction or otherwise required by state or national law, firearms and other weapons which may not lawfully be kept, possessed, or retained by the owner or person otherwise entitled to the possession thereof or which may not otherwise lawfully be returned to the owner thereof or which are unclaimed after notice to the owner pursuant to § 360-5 or the owner of which is not known may be kept and retained by the Bel Air Police Department for use in its training programs, or otherwise, or may be donated to museums or historical societies as the Chief may order for purposes of historical preservation. If said firearms or weapons are declared surplus by the Bel Air Police Department, disposition of the same may be made as otherwise provided in this chapter. Whenever such firearms or weapons are retained by the Bel Air Police Department or the Town for use in its training programs, or otherwise, said items shall be accounted for in accordance with the provisions of § 360-6.
If the property consists of burglar tools of any description, or unlawful firearms, or cartridges, or explosives, or armored or bulletproof clothing or other dangerous weapons, or gambling apparatus, or soiled, bloody, or unsanitary clothing, or solids or liquids of unknown or uncertain composition, or drugs, or hallucinogenic substances, or hypodermic syringes and needles, obscene pictures, prints, effigies, statues, or any poisonous, noxious or deleterious solids or liquids, or any other property which reasonably might result in injury to the health or safety of the public or which might be subject to unlawful use, the Chief or his designee may destroy each and every article of any such nature.
Motor vehicles, lost or stray animals and other property which is required to be disposed of otherwise than as provided in this chapter, by the terms of any law or ordinance, shall not be disposed of according to the terms of this chapter.
[Amended 10-6-2008 by Ord. No. 713-08]
There is established a seized property revenue account within the general fund of the Town of Bel Air to receive funds seized under the Police Department's drug enforcement efforts or other investigative programs. At the end of each fiscal year, seized funds in the seized property revenue account will be rolled to a seized property fund balance reserve account. Funds in the seized property fund balance reserve account shall be used as evidence in a judicial or administrative proceeding and shall remain in this account until all proper proceedings are complete. After proper documentation showing default judgment or administrative forfeiture action has been presented to the Town Administrator by the Chief of Police, the Director of Finance, upon written authorization from the Town Administrator, will transfer the appropriate funds from the seized property fund balance reserve account in the general fund to a forfeited property fund balance reserve account in the special revenue fund. Funds transferred into the forfeited property fund balance reserve account are to be used exclusively to purchase police equipment and to finance drug enforcement and community policing operations of the Bel Air Police Department and shall not be used as a source of financing for the annual current operating budget of the Police Department. Funds in the forfeited property fund balance reserve account will be used to fund current or subsequent year expenditures as noted. A forfeited property expense account within the special revenue fund of the Town will be budgeted each fiscal year.
Where applicable, the disposition of all personal property and funds which accrue to the Town of Bel Air by virtue of its Police Department drug enforcement operations will be governed by the provisions of the Criminal Law Article, Title 5, Controlled Dangerous Substances, Prescriptions and Other Substances, of the Annotated Code of Maryland or § 12-403 of the Criminal Procedures Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland. All monies received by the Town either pursuant to Criminal Law Article Title 5 or Criminal Procedures § 12-403 of the Annotated Code of Maryland or under the U.S. Department of Justice program for the disposition of forfeited property shall be credited to the seized property revenue account.
Expenditures from the forfeited property expense account will also be governed by Administrative Policy I.E.6 and will require the joint approval of the Chief of Police and Town Administrator.
The Treasurer or his designee shall conduct all sales made pursuant to the terms of this chapter.
Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, whenever any item of lost or abandoned property has been found and delivered to the custodian, or one of his subordinates, for care, custody, and control, such item shall be returned to the original finder whenever claim has been made by the finder and the following conditions have been met:
The claimant is the person who originally found the lost or abandoned article.
The claimant, after surrendering the property to the custodian, has served written notice of his intention to make a claim on that item within 60 days of the surrender of the item.
The lost or abandoned property has remained unclaimed by the owner or person having a right to said property for 60 days after the surrender of the same to the custodian.