Reporting & Finding Lost Property

Reporting Lost Property

Oftentimes lost property goes unreported, because citizens don't feel it's something they should bother the police with. The truth is that our department receives tons of found property from good Samaritans, and the majority of that property goes unclaimed by its owners. If you have lost an item, whether your uncertain if it may have been stolen or has just been misplaced, we encourage you to file a report with our department using the Voluntary Statement Form. This will allow us to document your lost property and check it against property that has been turned in to us.

What to Include in Your Report

Some things to include on the Voluntary Statement Form:

  • Date item went missing (approximate date is okay if exact date is unknown)
  • A detailed description of the item including color, type of item, brand name, serial number (if known), and any identifying marks (such as engraving)
  • Value of the lost item
  • Your contact information

Claiming Found Property

Step 1

Individuals who turn found property over to the Police Department and wish to claim the property should its owner not be located must follow the procedures outlined in RCW 63.21.010, outline below:

Procedure where finder wishes to claim found property — Appraisal — Surrender of property — Notice of intent to claim — Publication.

  1. Any person who finds property that is not unlawful to possess, the owner of which is unknown, and who wishes to claim the found property, shall:
    1.  (a) Within 7 days of the finding acquire a signed statement setting forth an appraisal of the current market value of the property prepared by a qualified person engaged in buying or selling like items or by a district court judge, unless the found property is cash; and 
    2.  (b) Within 7 days report the find of property and surrender, if requested, the property and a copy of the evidence of the value of the property to the chief law enforcement officer, or his or her designated representative, of the governmental entity where the property was found, and serve written notice upon the officer of the finder's intent to claim the property if the owner does not make out his or her right to it under this chapter.
  2. Within 30 days of the report, the governmental entity shall cause notice of the finding to be published at least once a week for 2 successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the property was found unless the appraised value of the property is less than the cost of publishing notice. If the value is less than the cost of publishing notice, the governmental entity may cause notice to be posted or published in other media or formats that do not incur expense to the governmental entity.

Written notice, as required in Section 1, Subsection B above, can be made to the police department using our Found Property Declaration Form (PDF).

Please Note: People often forget to complete Section 1, Step B, causing their claim to the property to be extinguished. If you have questions or need help with this requirement, please contact our Records Department.

Step 2

Once the requirements of RCW 63.21.010 have been met, the owner of the property must be given ample time to claim their lost property. According to Washington State law that time frame is 60 days. Once 60 days have elapsed, and the finder has met all of the requirements in RCW 63.21.010, the finder may then take ownership of the property as outlined below.

RCW 63.21.030
Release of property to finder — Limitations — Payment to governmental entity — Expiration of finder's claim.

  1. The found property shall be released to the finder and become the property of the finder 60 days after the find was reported to the appropriate officer if no owner has been found, or 60 days after the final disposition of any judicial or other official proceeding involving the property, whichever is later. The property shall be released only after the finder has presented evidence of payment to the treasurer of the governmental entity handling the found property, the amount of $10 plus the amount of the cost of publication of notice incurred by the government [governmental] entity pursuant to RCW 63.21.010, which amount shall be deposited in the general fund of the governmental entity. If the appraised value of the property is less than the cost of publication of notice of the finding, then the finder is not required to pay any fee.
  2. When 90 days have passed after the found property was reported to the appropriate officer, or n90 days after the final disposition of a judicial or other proceeding involving the found property, and the finder has not completed the requirements of this chapter, the finder's claim shall be deemed to have expired and the found property may be disposed of as unclaimed property under chapter 63.32 or 63.40 RCW. Such laws shall also apply.