The effective investigation and prosecution of a criminal offender relies heavily on the careful, methodical and proper use of evidence. It is the responsibility of the Evidence Unit to maintain not only the integrity of each item of evidence but the integrity of its Chain of Custody as well. The careful safeguards in place ensure all property coming into their possession is processed in accordance with state laws, city ordinances and departmental policies and procedures, to ensure the items value later in court.
All property and evidence items submitted are entered into a computer database and case research is done so final disposition of property and evidence items can be determined. The unit works closely with several other county agencies such as the Medical Examiner’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Crime Lab, where evidence items are sometimes transferred for further testing/analysis. The unit also works with the State Attorney’s Office to testify or give depositions when required.
Claiming your property
Property that is classified on your property receipt as “Found” or “Safekeeping” (with the exception of firearms) may be claimed by appointment at the Winter Park Police Department during the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday thru Friday.
If you’re listed as the owner on the property receipt, present the receipt with the case number on it and a valid photo ID. If you are not listed as the owner, you must present proof of ownership, (for example, a bill of sale from the store where you purchased the item or a notarized bill of sale if the item was purchased from a private individual). Lost an item in the winter Park area? You can use our online Found Property Listings to view the found items that have been turned in.
Found Property that you’ve turned in
With the exception of firearms and contraband, Found Property must be held by the Evidence Unit for 90 days. If you wish to claim the property after that time (presuming the true owner has not already claimed it), you will be contacted by the WPPD Property & Evidence Unit with further instructions.
Safekeeping property (excluding firearms)
If you are listed on the receipt as the owner of property being held as Safekeeping, call 407-599-3322 for an appointment. On the day of your appointment, please bring with you the property receipt and a valid photo ID. If you’re not listed as the owner, contact the Winter Park Police Officer who issued the receipt. He or she must authorize, in writing, the release of the property to you. A valid photo ID will be required when you pick up the property.
Per Florida statute 925.11, if the suspect in the case is found guilty by jury, the property must be held for four years after sentencing, regardless of who owns the property. If the suspect pled in court or charges were dropped, property can be released with written authorization from the detective or officer responsible for the case. A certified copy of a court order can also release the property.
The release of firearms is governed by how the weapon is classified: Evidence, Safekeeping or Court Ordered Domestic Injunction. If you’re uncertain as to the classification assigned to your property, check with the detective or officer who is handling the case.
Release of a firearm
Before the return of any firearm the following must be completed:
- Person claiming a firearm are subject to a background check to ensure they are not a convicted felon, are not wanted, or have an outstanding domestic violence injunction.
- A check of Winter Park Police Department records must be completed to determine the background information on the case. If there is any question about the adjudication of a charge(s), the weapon will not be released until the issue is resolved.
- The officer or detective who seized the weapon must authorize the release.
Ammunition is not returned due to safety concerns, unless a court order specifies otherwise.
Evidence firearms will not be returned without instructions from the State Attorney’s Office or a Court Order, unless the case was “Nol Prosse” or results in a judgment of acquittal. Proper photo identification must be presented and pursuant F.S.S. 790.08, the charges in the case must be concluded.
Firearms on non-evidentiary nature (safekeeping, death investigations, suicidal incidents, etc.) shall not be released without direction from the designated case agent or their supervisor.
Firearms subject to Court Ordered Domestic Injunctions
Release requires a certified copy of the court order lifting the injunction prepared by the judge who issued the injunction. There are no exceptions.
Property & Evidence FAQs
What are the Evidence Unit’s operating hours?
We’re open Monday thru Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We’re located at 500 N. Virginia Avenue, Winter Park FL 32789 and can be reached by phone at 407-599-3322.
I’ve been notified that you have property of mine and I no longer want it. What should I do?
Call or send us a letter stating that you no longer want the property and we will dispose of the items for you. If the item is sold at auction, however, you are not entitled to any of the proceeds.
Can I claim something that I found and turned in to WPPD?
Yes, providing that certain conditions are met. Check our “Claiming your property” section above for information on these conditions.
How can I claim my firearm you are storing?
The return of firearms requires special documentation. Check “Claiming your property” section above for details.
Does WPPD donate unclaimed bicycles to charitable organizations?
Yes. If your organization is located in the city of Winter Park and classified as a non-profit charity, send a letter to the Property & Evidence Unit requesting the donation and we willl get in touch with your representative.
Do I need an appointment to pick up property?
Yes, appointments are arranged Monday thru Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Calling ahead to 407-599-3322 is done to ensure that someone is available to you, and that your property is ready for release. Please have your case number available.
Do I need to bring identification?
Yes, you will need to bring a valid picture identification with your correct address.
Can someone other than myself pick up my property for me?
Yes, you may assign another person to retrieve your property with a notarized letter of authorization and photo identification. The letter must be addressed to the Winter Park Police Department and include your case number, the name of the person you are granting authority, your signature, and Notary stamp with signature.
Can I get my property back if I am a minor?
Property will only be released to a parent or guardian, who must show legal guardianship proof.
How long is property held?
Different types of property are held for different lengths of time. For instance, Found Property is held for a period of 90 days unless it is claimed by the owner. Evidence items are held until such time as they are no longer needed for trial or the statute of limitations expires. Statute of limitations may vary depending on the seriousness of the crime. Additionally, some items can be released pursuant to a court order or authorization from the State Attorneys Office.
What happens to unclaimed property?
Property which remains unclaimed by a legal owner will be disposed of by destruction, conversion to city property, donation to charity, public auction, or returned to the finder if a claim was made when the property was recovered.