Evidence and Property Unit

Oceanside Police Department
Police Annex
4927 Oceanside Blvd. Oceanside, CA 92056

(760) 435-4560
Hours of Operation:
Monday through Thursday 8:00 am to 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Closed Friday, Saturday and Sunday


About Us

The Evidence and Property Unit is part of the Investigations Division. The proper handling of evidence is essential to the effective investigation and prosecution of a criminal case. The Evidence and Property Unit maintains the integrity of each evidence item and its chain of custody. State law and department policy ensure that safeguards are in place to preserve the value of evidence from collection through its presentation in court. The unit is staffed by an Evidence and Property Supervisor and Evidence and Property Technicians who perform numerous daily tasks that include: 

 • Property and evidence maintenance and disposition 
 • Equipment maintenance, distribution and disposition

They are tasked with documenting, receiving, storing, tracking and disposing of property and evidence that is collected by officers of the Oceanside Police Department. The Unit processes approximately 20,000 pieces of new evidence and property every year and must dispose of property that is no longer needed as evidence or that is past the retention period required by law. The Evidence and Property Unit must: 

 • Maintain the integrity of all evidence by tracking the "chain of custody" 
 • Preserve all property from contamination, damage, theft or loss 
 • Serve as the liaison to the courts and other law enforcement agencies for evidence needs 
 • Arrange and document interim releases and returns of property for forensic analysis, for court and for investigative uses 
 • Identification and return of evidence and property to rightful owners 
 • Ensure that all releases and dispositions of property are legal and documented 
 • Arrange for the destruction of narcotics and weapons 
 • Arrange for the auctioning and/or destruction of unclaimed property

The Evidence and Property Unit is responsible for the police department's equipment. This includes the acquisition and distribution of personal equipment and uniforms to all members of the department and material and supplies.

Frequently Asked Questions
What must I do to recover property held by the Oceanside Police Department?
Why can’t I recover my property immediately from the Oceanside Police Department?
How may I improve the chances of my property being returned to me when it can be released?
How may I recover property in police department custody of a family member or friend that died?
If I lost property and someone gave it to the police, how can I recover it?
If I found property and gave it to the police, can I have it when no one claims it?
How can I recover my property that was seized by a search warrant signed by a judge?
Why do I need a court order and when will I receive my property?
How do I recover property that was taken as evidence by the police department?
Why Evidence is held.
What happens to the money that I lost or that was stolen from me and is being held by the police department?
How do I recover the money that I lost or that was stolen from me and is being held by the police department?
How do recover my firearm from the Oceanside Police Department?
How do I surrender a firearm for destruction?
How long will the police department store property that is held for safekeeping?
What happens to the property that is not claimed?
What is a “Safekeeping and Prisoner property receipt”?
How may I recover my stolen or missing bicycle?
How can I prevent my bicycle from being stolen?
Where do I find the serial number on my bike?


Recover My Property

What must I do to recover property held by the Oceanside Police Department?
• Contact the Evidence and Property Unit at (760) 435-4560 
    1. Provide your name, a case number, or other information to allow us to find the property 
    2. Verify that the property may be released 
    3. Determine if it is held as evidence in a case (if held as evidence, you will require release approval from the detective or the court)
• Bring government photo identification to the Evidence and Property Facility. Accepted identification includes: 
    1. Driver license 
    2. State identification card 
    3. Military identification 
    4. Passport
• Bring any documentation that may verify that you own the property (if ownership is at question). This may include: 
    1. An Oceanside Police Department property receipt 
    2. A court order 
    3. An order for release by an investigator 
    4. A verifiable sales receipt with serial numbers 
    5. The police report number of the incident that documents your property 
    6. A notarized letter authorizing the release of property to you by the owner, if they are unable to appear to recover the property personally 
    7. A request letter to release property to an employee if on institutional letterhead with an official witness 
    8. Other documentation that may show that you own the property in police custody 
Why can’t I recover my property immediately from the Oceanside Police Department?
• For security purposes, a limited number of police employees have access to the evidence and property held by the police department. These employees work during business hours Monday through Thursday.
• The process to recover property held by the Police Department will depend on the type of property you want to recover. The release of certain property is dictated by the laws of the State of California. Some of the different types of property are: 
    1. Property that is Found 
    2. Property seized in a Search Warrant 
    3. Property held as Evidence 
    4. Money 
    5. Firearms and other weapons 
    6. Property held for Safekeeping 
    7. Property taken from prisoner

How may I improve the chances of my property being returned to me when it can be released?
• It is important to keep your address current with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. This is a primary means for the police department to locate and contact you when notice must be given to you about your property.
• Call to the Evidence and Property Unit to determine the status of your property.

How may I recover property in police department custody of a family member or friend that died?
• Bring the following documents and information with you to your appointment: 
    1. A certified copy of the decedent's death certificate (at least 40 days must have passed since the death). 
    2. A certified copy of the estate rights (power of attorney, executor, etc.) and/or an affidavit or declaration which complies with Probate Code 13101.

Property that is Found

If I lost property and someone gave it to the police, how can I recover it?
• Contact the Evidence and Property Unit at (760) 435-4560 
    1. To verify that the property was recovered 
    2. To prove ownership to the satisfaction of the police department
• Found Property must be held for a period of 90 days.
• If the found property is not claimed by the owner or the finder within 90 days, the property will be auctioned, donated or disposed pursuant to police department policy and in accordance with Civil Code 2080.1 and 2080.3.
• If the found property is worth more than $250.00 and is not claimed within the 90 day period, the department must advertise the property in a newspaper of general circulation Civil Code 2080.3. 
    1. The department must wait seven days following the date of first publication of the notice. 
    2. The finder will be required to pay cost of publication before the title will vest in the person who found or saved the property.

If I found property and gave it to the police, can I have it when no one claims it?
• If the property is not claimed by the owner or by the finder, the property is auctioned, donated or disposed by department policy and in accordance with California Civil Code 2080.1.
• The finder of property or cash that is not claimed within those 90 days by the rightful owner can apply to claim the items.
• Commonly found property that citizens seek to claim generally includes jewelry, bicycles, cash, clothing, etc.
• Found firearms and contraband cannot be claimed by the finder. These items will be destroyed or disposed as prescribed by law.
• If you have any other questions about claiming found property, you may call (760) 435-4560

Property Seized by a Search Warrant

How can I recover my property that was seized by a search warrant signed by a judge?
• Property that is seized by the execution of a search warrant may only be released with a court order to release the property.
• If you have a question if the property was taken in a search warrant of your home, business or vehicle contact the Oceanside Police Department Investigations Unit at (760) 435-4580 
    1. Request to speak with the Investigator by name, if you have it, or 
    2. Provide the following information to identify the assigned Investigator: 
        a. The address where the search warrant occurred 
        b. The date and time when the search warrant was executed 
        c. Your name and date of birth 
        d. The Oceanside Police Department Case Number (It will have the format of the year followed by a six digit number 14-000000).

Court Orders

Why do I need a court order and when will I receive my property?
• California Penal Code 1536 requires that you obtain a court order to recover property that has been confiscated as a result of a search warrant.
• By law, the Oceanside Police Department is allowed 10 days to return property upon receipt of a court order. 
    1. This allows the investigating officer to receive notification of the court order and to determine if the property must be retained for the investigation. 
    2. The investigator may contact the court and notify a judge why the property should remain in the custody of Oceanside Police Department. 
    3. The judge will make a determination whether the property should be returned or remain in police custody. 
    4. The length of time the property remains in police custody varies upon the circumstances surrounding its seizure.

Property Taken as Evidence

How do I recover property that was taken as evidence by the police department?
• The investigating officer or the Courts must approve the release or return of all evidence taken for a case under investigation.
• Before you can recover property that was taken as evidence, certain processes must be completed by the Police Department and by the Courts. (Read "Why evidence is held" below.)
• When all legal processes have been completed. This evidence may only be released after a case disposition, i.e., dismissal, plea, trial, sentencing, and appeals. 
    1. Contact the investigating officer or the Courts for release authorization. 
    2. Make an appointment with the Property and Evidence Unit by calling (760) 435-4560 
    3. Follow the release procedures listed in "Recover My Property" above.

Why Evidence is held:
• The Oceanside Police Department holds evidence items to prove or disprove facts related to incidents under investigation.
• Evidence items may be retained pending forensic analysis, i.e., the collection, review and analysis of fingerprints, DNA, serology, or photographs.
• Evidence items may be retained pending the expiration of the statute of limitation for the crime committed in the case. 
    1. The statute of limitation will vary based on the seriousness of the crime. 
    2. The statute of limitation may vary if the suspect flees and has a warrant for his/her arrest.
• Evidence items may be entered as evidence in a court case and will be held pending the conclusion of the case and any appeals.
• Evidence may be held to prove or disprove facts about: 
    1. A crime 
    2. A traffic collision 
    3. A documented incident
• If an arrest has not been made and/or a suspect has not been identified, evidence items may be held up to one year or longer depending on the severity of the crime and the status of the case.
• Crime evidence may usually be released only: 
    1. After the prosecution of the criminal case is completed (i.e.; by dismissal, plea, trial or after sentencing) AND 
    2. After the investigating officer provides the Property and Evidence Unit with a “case disposition” 
    3. In more serious cases, such as homicide, rape, assault with a deadly weapon etc., evidence may never be released due to long term appeal processes in the courts and the potential for defense requests for additional analysis. 
    4. In some instances, the prosecutor (Deputy District Attorney or City Prosecutor) may authorize the release of some types of evidence depending on the retention practices proof of evidence authorized by the court.
• When the case prosecution and all appeals are completed, the case investigator may receive a disposition form from the court.
• The investigator will direct that the property to be released to the rightful owner, or it will be destroyed if it cannot be released.

Money

What happens to the money that I lost or that was stolen from me and is being held by the police department?
• Money may be held by the police department: 
    1. As evidence 
    2. As safekeeping 
    3. As found 
    4. As prisoner property
• The police department generally does not retain any currency in its evidence facility. The police department deposits the currency with the Financial Services Department.
• Money held as evidence in a criminal case will not be released without a court order, with authorization by the investigating officer or by the City Prosecutor.
• Money being held for safekeeping will be released to the owner upon proof of ownership or with a notarized letter from the owner authorizing the release to another person with identification.
• Money from an inmate’s property in excess of $499.00 will be entered in evidence. The court lockup will not allow inmates to have money in excess of $499.00.
• Any unclaimed money after 90 days that is not related to an active case may automatically be forfeited to the General Fund at the City of Oceanside City Clerk’s Office.

How do I recover the money that I lost or that was stolen from me and is being held by the police department?
• Contact the Evidence and Property Unit at (760) 435-4560 to determine if the money may be returned at this time.
• Contact the Investigations Division at (760) 435-4580 to obtain approval for the release of the money if directed by the Evidence and Property Unit. This will be necessary when the money is evidence in certain types of crimes.
• Note that in some circumstances, the Evidence and Property Unit may approve the release of the money.
• Upon approval to release the money, the Evidence and Property Unit will submit a payment request to the Financial Services Department to pay you. 
    1. This process takes approximately three to six weeks. 
    2. Checks are approved and issued twice each month at City Council meetings. 
    3. All checks are mailed by the City of Oceanside. No checks will be released in person.

Property Held for Safekeeping

How long will the police department store property that is held for safekeeping?
• Property held solely for safekeeping may be held for a period of 60 days.
• If the owner is incarcerated, they must make arrangements to have the property picked up within the 60 day period, or must request in writing that the property be held up to an additional 10 months.
• Property remaining in police custody in excess of this time may be disposed.

Unclaimed Property

What happens to the property that is not claimed?
• The police department sends unclaimed Property to an auction company or it is destroyed by department policy.
• The proceeds of items sold at auction are deposited into the City’s General Fund.

Safekeeping and Prisoner Property Receipt

What is a “Safekeeping and Prisoner property receipt”?
• A Safekeeping and Prisoner Property Receipt is proof of your possession or ownership of property if it is taken from you by an Oceanside Police Department police officer. 
    1. Department members will usually issue you a Safekeeping and Prisoner Property Receipt that describes the items taken and the reason(s) why they were taken. 
    2. The reverse side of the Safekeeping and Prisoner Property Receipt has instructions about how the seized property will be handled, released or destroyed if it is not claimed within the time periods defined by law.
• The Safekeeping and Prisoner Property Receipt is also used to accept found property from the finder pursuant to Civil Code 2080; the finder signs the form and declares, under penalty of perjury, that the owner of the found property is unknown to them.

Bicycles

How may I recover my stolen or missing bicycle?
• Bicycles are the most common items submitted as “Found Property.” Unfortunately, very few bicycles are matched to or can be released to owners because they cannot adequately prove ownership of the bicycle. The following practices can improve your ability to recover a stolen or missing bicycle: 
    1. Record the serial number of your bicycle and retain it in a place where you can find it 
    2. Etch an identifying number such as your driver license number or other number on an obscure portion of the frame separate from the serial number 
    3. Place a unique sticker or other identifier visible on the frame 
    4. Retain a photograph of you and your bicycle documenting these unique additions
• Bicycles submitted as “evidence” will be released to the rightful owner or their designee with proper authorization and valid photo identification.
• All other bicycles held for safekeeping or found can be returned with photo identification and proof of ownership.
• Unclaimed found bicycles submitted by a person can be claimed after 90 days by contacting the Evidence and Property Unit at (760) 435-4560 for information.

How can I prevent my bicycle from being stolen?
• You can lessen the chances of your bicycle being stolen by: 
    1. Leaving your garage door closed and locked at home 
    2. Parking your bicycle in an area that is open to public view 
    3. Locking your bicycle to a heavy duty bicycle rack or sturdy object 
    4. Using a high quality locking device.
• Heavy duty cables and locks will deter many thieves, but cables are often cut by suspects that use bolt cutters.
• A hardened steel U-lock may be more effective against suspects using these types of tools.

Where do I find the serial number on my bike?
• The location of the serial number on the bicycle will be different depending on the manufacturer. Some of the common places to find your serial number are: 
    1. On the head tube (where the handlebars are inserted) 
    2. Across the top bar of the frame 
    3. On the seat tube (where the seat is inserted) 
    4. On the lower bar 
    5. Under the crank housing (where the pedals connect) 
    6. On one the rear forks (on the vertical tube) 
    7. On one of the rear stays (on the horizontal tube where the rear wheel axle is mounted)
• A good reference for serial number locations is available at the following website:
http://www.iape.org/resourcesPages/tipsARticles/bikeSerialNumbers.html

Recover a Firearm

How do I recover a firearm in the possession of the Oceanside Police Department?

• Obtain the authorization for release of the firearm from the Oceanside Police Department investigating officer (detective) or from the Court.
• Complete a Law Enforcement Gun Release Application with the California Department of Justice to determine your eligibility to possess the firearm.
• Confirm that the DOJ ownership records for the firearm are in your name, and/or file a Firearm Ownership Record application with the department of Justice.
• Upon issuance of a DOJ firearm clearance letter, make an appointment with the Evidence and Property Unit by calling (760) 435-4560
• Present your clearance letter at the appointment with photo government identification.

What is the Law Enforcement Gun Release (LEGR) Program, and how do I submit an application?
• You must follow the Law Enforcement Gun Release (LEGR) Program required by the State of California Department of Justice (DOJ). There are no exceptions.
• Submission requirements and processing fees are available on the Law Enforcement Gun Release Application.
• To recover your firearm, you must complete a Law Enforcement Gun Release (LEGR) Application, and 
    1. Send the application along with the appropriate processing fee to the Department of Justice. 
    2. The processing fee for a Law Enforcement Gun Release Application is listed on the application. (See the DOJ website for the fee amounts. You must pay an amount for the first firearm (long gun or handgun), and a lesser amount for each additional firearm.)
• If your firearm was submitted into evidence at the court during a trial, you may have to recover the firearm from the court. 
        a. If the court or the Oceanside Police Department determines that the firearm was reported stolen, the fee for the stolen firearms(s) will be waived. 
        b. You must send documentation from the court or the Oceanside Police Department to DOJ confirming that the firearm was reported stolen along with the Law Enforcement Gun Release Application to qualify for the fee waiver. (See the DOJ website for the full details of this process.)
• When DOJ receives your Law Enforcement Gun Release Application, DOJ will conduct a firearms eligibility check to determine if you are lawfully eligible to possess firearms.
• Typical DOJ processing time for a Law Enforcement Gun Release Application is four to six weeks.
• You will receive a notice of the results. If this notice states that you are eligible to possess firearms, you may take the notice to the court or to the Oceanside Police Department to claim your firearm. The approval notice must be presented to the court or the Oceanside Police Department within thirty (30) days of the date of the notice. Failure to do so will result in the need to submit a new application and fees to undergo another firearms eligibility check.
• You may obtain a LEGR application and instructions from the DOJ website. See the following url links: 
    http://ag.ca.gov/firearms/  
    http://ag.ca.gov/firearms/legrinfo.php  
    http://ag.ca.gov/firearms/forms/pdf/legr.pdf  
• Firearms will be released only to the registered owner of the firearm with valid government identification.
• You must confirm that the DOJ ownership record of the firearm is in your name.
• The Oceanside Police Department or the court may not release a handgun to a person unless the handgun is recorded in DOJ records in the name of the person who seeks its return. (PC 12021.3(b)(2).
• The submission of the LEGR application for a handgun will not change the ownership records of the handgun. 
    1. The name of the handgun owner can only be changed by a transfer transaction performed by a licensed firearms dealer. 
    2. In unusual cases where a dealer transfer is not required, you change the ownership information by submitting a Firearm Ownership Record to the Department of Justice. 
    3. Obtain a Firearm Ownership Record application at http://ag.ca.gov/firearms/forms  
• An additional check will be made when you arrive at the Oceanside Police Department to claim the firearm. This final check is to ensure that there has not been a change to your record since the DOJ check.

Are there special circumstances for the release of weapons related to domestic violence or mental illness?
Yes, see the sections below for details.

Firearms and Weapons Seized at Domestic Violence Scenes per 12028.5
• Firearms and other weapons confiscated and held pursuant to Penal Code 12028.5 related to domestic violence have special requirements for release.
• Penal Code 12028.5 states that no firearm or other deadly weapon shall be held less than forty-eight (48) hours.
• If the police department has reasonable cause to believe that the return of the firearm or weapon would likely endanger the victim or reporting party of the assault or threat, the police department may initiate a petition to the superior court within 60 days of the seizure to request that the firearm not be returned. See PC 12028.5 for more information.
• If the firearm is not retained as evidence related to criminal charges for the domestic violence incident or is not retained because it was illegally possessed the firearms may be returned to you subject to the requirements of the DOJ LEGR Program (PC 12021.3)

Firearms and Weapons Seized pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Codes 5150/8102
• Firearms and other weapons confiscated and held pursuant to your inability to care for your safety or the safety of others (mental health issues) have special requirements for release.
• If you are committed to a mental health facility, prior to, or concurrent with, your discharge, the facility will inform you that you are prohibited from owning, possessing, controlling, receiving, or purchasing any firearm for a period of five years.
• You may request a hearing from a court for an order permitting you to own, possess, control, receive, or purchase a firearm. (See Welfare and Institutions Codes 8102 and 8103 for more information.)
• If the police department believes that the release of the firearms confiscated from you pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code 8102 may endanger you or others, it may make a report of the details surrounding the confiscation of these items and give it to the county prosecuting agency or City Attorney’s Office. The City Attorney must file a petition within 30 to 60 days of the incident, alleging that the return of these items would be likely to result in endangering you or others, or the items must be returned to you, if you are not prohibited from possessing firearms.
• If the prosecuting agency does file such a petition, you have a right to a hearing on the question of whether returning these firearms would in fact be likely to result in endangering you or others.
• A copy of the prosecuting agency’s petition will be mailed to you; if you wish to request a hearing you must notify the clerk of the Court within 30 days of the filing date of the prosecuting agency’s petition.
• The clerk will then set a date and time for the hearing and a notification will be mailed to you.

What happens to my firearms if I am no longer allowed to possess them according to the Department of Justice?
• Firearms held for safekeeping and not claimed within 180 days are eligible for disposal in accordance with 12021.3(g) California Penal Code.
• If the owner is prohibited from ownership and the firearm is not illegal, he/she may sell/transfer the firearm to a licensed firearms dealer.

Surrender a Firearm for Destruction

Where may I surrender a firearm or weapon for destruction?
• You may surrender a firearm or weapon for destruction by calling for a police officer to respond to your residence or business in Oceanside. 
    1. Call the police department Communications Unit at (760) 435-4900 
    2. Tell the dispatcher that you would like to surrender a firearm for destruction. 
    3. Officers will respond to your home or business to collect the firearm.
• You may surrender a firearm or weapon for destruction at the police station. 
    1. Go to the police station lobby at 3855 Mission Ave. 
    2. Tell the front desk officer that you would like to surrender a firearm for destruction at the lobby.

If I surrender a firearm at the police station, how may I legally transport it there?

Handguns
• California Penal Code section 12025 does not prevent a citizen of the United States over 18 years of age who is not lawfully prohibited from firearm possession, and who resides or is temporarily in California, from transporting by motor vehicle any pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person provided the firearm is unloaded and stored in a locked container.
• The term "locked container" means a secure container which is fully enclosed and locked by a padlock, key lock, combination lock, or similar locking device. This includes the trunk of a motor vehicle, but does not include the utility or glove compartment. For more information, refer to California Penal Code Section 12026.1.

Shotguns and Rifles
• Non-concealable firearms (rifles and shotguns) are not generally covered within the provisions of California Penal Code section 12025 and therefore are not required to be transported in a locked container. However, as with any firearm, non-concealable firearms must be unloaded while they are being transported.
• A rifle or shotgun that is defined as an assault weapon pursuant to Penal Code 12276 or 12276.1 must be transported in accordance with Penal Code section 12026.1.

Registered Assault Weapons

• California Penal Code section 12285(c)(7) requires that registered assault weapons may be transported only between specified locations and must be unloaded and in a locked container when transported.
• The term "locked container" means a secure container which is fully enclosed and locked by a padlock, key lock, combination lock, or similar locking device. This includes the trunk of a motor vehicle, but does not include the utility or glove compartment. For more information, refer to California Penal Code Section 12026.1.

Why do people usually want to surrender a firearm or weapon?
• A person no longer wants to maintain the firearm due to changing personal circumstances in their home or business.
• The firearm belonged to a family member that has died.
• Other reasons.

Does the police department sell or use the firearms?
• The police department does not sell firearms that are surrendered for destruction. These and other firearms are destroyed at least once each year.
• The police department in rare circumstances may appropriate a firearm for its use if it serves a specific law enforcement need and purpose. (For example, it matches the duty firearms used by the department, and it is of sufficient quality.)

What safety procedures should I follow to surrender a firearm?
• General safety tips prior to surrendering the weapon: 
    1. If you know how to unload the firearm safely, remove all bullets from the firearm. 
    2. Remove the magazines from semi-automatic handguns and rifles. 
    3. Separate the magazines from the firearms. 
    4. Place a flex tie or other obstruction to lock open the chamber on a revolver or the slide on a semi-automatic handgun. 
    5. Maintain the weapon in a gun rug, box, or other container. (When transporting a handgun in a vehicle, observe State laws.)
• At the police station: 
    1. Leave the firearm or weapon in your vehicle. 
    2. Do not bring the firearm or weapon into the police station lobby when you first arrive. (This could alarm police personnel if they do not know your reason for entering the station with the firearm.) 
    3. Request an officer to meet you as described above. 
    4. Advise the officer about 
        a. The condition of the firearm or weapon 
        b. Whether you know or don't know if it is loaded 
        c. Where it is located in the vehicle
Follow the directions of the officer to retrieve the firearm or weapon from your vehicle.
At a home or business: 
    1. Do not bring the firearm to the door when the officer arrives. 
    2. Leave the firearm in a safe place where the officer may retrieve it with you. 
    3. Advise the officer about 
    4. The condition of the firearm or weapon 
    5. Whether you know or don't know if it is loaded 
    6. Where it is located in your home

May I give or sell a firearm to the officer that responds to my request to surrender the firearm?
• No. This would be a violation of police department policy and of the law.
• Police department policy does not allow officers to make this type of transaction in the course of their duty.
• California law strictly regulates the transfer of firearms between private parties in the State of California. (See these laws on the Attorney General's website.)