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Orem police spring-clean evidence

Items will be destroyed, auctioned off, ‘re-gifted’

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OREM — Normally spring-cleaning doesn't involve the disposal of old hunting rifles, sawed-off shotguns and semiautomatic pistols.

But you're not the Orem city evidence technician.

It's been years since the file room at the Orem Police Department of Public Safety has been thoroughly cleaned, which is why Patricia Pikus has such a big job.

For the past several weeks, Pikus has been going through old, closed cases and cold evidence, evaluating what could appropriately be destroyed or "re-gifted."

"Things that have been used as evidence or found property, after the court case (if we) can't determine the rightful owner, it can go back (to the department)," said Orem Police Lt. Doug Edwards.

So the Miracle-Gro from last March, the two bottles of Super Glue, the Maglite flashlight and the Shop-Vac from May 2007 — all unattached to specific cases — can be recycled to city departments.

"If there's a perfectly good pair of binoculars or handcuffs that happen to be the same kind we use, we could very well stamp Orem PD on it," Edwards said.

Any unused items are auctioned off or otherwise disposed of, Edwards said.

The Police Department can also lay claim to confiscated or donated weapons, but the difference with guns is that they are never sold back to the general public.

"No weapon that's been in our care and custody will go back on the road," Edwards said. "We don't want to ever (get back) some gun used in a homicide ... and think, 'Oh shoot, we had that one."'

On the firearm disposal list, recently presented to the Orem City Council for their knowledge and approval, 16 of the guns had been donated to the city by owners who didn't want them anymore.

Sometimes it's an older woman whose husband died and she doesn't want a gun in the house anymore, Edwards said.

Several of the other guns had been used to commit a crime, and cannot, by state law, be returned to the person charged with that crime.

Guns that the department doesn't want or can't use are disassembled and incinerated, Edwards said.

But while Pikus is dealing with old evidence, she's still trying to keep up with the new. Each day, Pikus may get several pieces of evidence from as many as six different cases.

"Five p.m. comes really fast," she said with a laugh. "I can never keep on top of it."

Pikus is responsible to properly label, record and store each item to ensure it stays exactly as it was found for potential use in court. She's also the police photographer, and is on call 24/7 to photograph evidence.

The strangest things she said she's ever booked into evidence were a tombstone and a skull.

Both owners were eventually found, as is the case with most evidence.

"Most of the things we have, we know who the owners are and we can find them," Edwards said.

E-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com