Ordinance allows police to now dispose of unclaimed property

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Whitefish City Council recently approved an ordinance that allows the Police Department to dispose of unclaimed personal property.

City Attorney Angela Jacobs said law enforcement often receives personal property as evidence in criminal cases.

“Items are often stolen and no one claims them,” Jacobs said. “There is a large store of bicycles hanging around. If it has a value of more than $20, the police department will be able to sell or donate the item.”

The Montana League of Cities and Towns last year sponsored legislation creating a presumptive abandonment time period and establishing a process for the disposition of unclaimed personal property. The Legislature passed a law authorizing cities to adopt ordinances or resolutions providing for the care, restitution, sale, donation, return or destruction of unclaimed items.

Police will be able to dispose of all unclaimed personal property having a value of more than $20 after three months. Officers will attempt to notify owners of the unclaimed property by posting a list on its website four times a year.

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