Police Bike Donations

Lost or stolen bicycles recovered by Casper police officers fill one corner of the basement at a city warehouse. The police department will soon begin donating bikes that can’t be reunited with their owners to local nonprofits, rather than auctioning them alongside other seized property.

Alan Rogers, Star-Tribune

The Casper Police Department didn’t auction off bikes this year. It’ll be giving them to charity instead.

In years past, the police department held an end-of-summer auction to liquidate unclaimed property. This year, the department will be giving roughly 100 bikes away, rather than selling them.

The department can auction off unclaimed property with court approval. It is mostly items like stolen tools that are difficult to trace. Even items that have serial numbers don’t always make their way back home because the department doesn’t have a database to use for searches. Most frequently, though, the department ends up with bikes.

The department usually picks up the bicycles as a result of citizen calls, when people find abandoned bikes on their property, said Detective John Hatcher. If the bike goes unclaimed, the police department can ask a judge to make it police property.

Typically an auction will bring in about $3,000 of revenue for the department, Hatcher said. After hiring an auctioneer and paying employees to set up the auction, it’s not much of a money maker.

As part of the department’s “Our Community” initiative, police will give the bikes to local charities in the hope that they’ll end up under Christmas trees.

“We don’t want to see these bikes go to waste, and we know that many of our non-profit partners could put these bikes to great use,” Interim Chief Steve Schulz said in a news release. “Thus, we’ve initiated this program, and we want the bicycles to be in the hands of our partners before Christmas.”

The department also plans to institute a bicycle registration program, which Hatcher said should cut down on the number of unclaimed bicycles. The program would allow people to register their bicycles’ serial numbers with the police department. Police could then identify the owner of an abandoned bike and return it to its rightful owner.

Follow crime reporter Shane Sanderson on Twitter @shanersanderson

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Shane Sanderson is a Star-Tribune reporter who primarily covers criminal justice. Sanderson is a proud University of Missouri graduate. Lately, he’s been reading Cormac McCarthy and cooking Italian food. He writes about his own life in his free time.

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