Local law enforcement agencies, police and sheriff departments, receive personal property that is evidence in criminal cases, has been abandoned by the owner or is recovered stolen property that the owner fails to claim. Since 1997 Montana does not have a statutory process for disposal of abandoned personal property that is being held by law enforcement agencies for the owners to claim but who fail to do so. Many police departments store bicycles and other found or recovered property that must be held presumably until the true owner comes to claim it. There is no statutory standard of when this property may be presumed to be abandoned and the local government entity may dispose of the property either through sale, donation to charitable cause or destruction. Local governments need to have legal clarity and authority for the disposition of abandoned property.
MLCT will sponsor legislation creating a presumptive abandonment time period and establishing a process for the disposal of personal property local governments are holding as unclaimed property for the owners.