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*Update 05-12-2022* To My Question Re: Return of Stolen Handgun in PA Login/Join 
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Picture of hjs157
posted
Update 05-12-2022
Petitions for the return of my property have been filed with the US Attorney's Office as well as the US District Court of Eastern PA. Included as evidence are the original bill of sale, PA State Police Record of Sale, Philadelphia PD Evidence Receipt and Letters of Exception from my insurance company stating no claims were filed for the loss on either my auto or homeowner policies. In addition, I referenced the incident report numbers from my local PD and the the Philadelphia PD who recovered the pistol. I guess now it's a waiting game. I'll update with any new developments.

Update 04-19-2022
I just received a call from from the United States Attorney's Office in Philadelphia notifying me they are "seeking to forfeit my asset in a criminal case". Pending the detailed letter I am to receive outlining the specifics, what does this mean? Am I forfeiting my property? Is the Philadelphia PD forfeiting the evidence to the federal prosecutors? Thanks for the explanation.

OP
I was recently notified by the Philadelphia Police a pistol stolen from me in 2016 has been recovered. After asking me some routine questions, the detective indicated the pistol would be "processed" by the crime lab which could take some time. Is anyone familiar with the protocol for returning stolen firearms in PA, specifically ones recovered in Philadelphia? I realize if the pistol is to be used as evidence in a trail it may be tied up for years. I'm curious how one would go about recovering a stolen handgun once it is released by the police/courts. I did not file an insurance claim on the pistol and have documentation to prove ownership. Any idea what happens next? Thanks!

This message has been edited. Last edited by: hjs157,
 
Posts: 3135 | Location: Western PA | Registered: July 20, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Each agency is different, that being said, be prepared for a long wait.


Don't. drink & drive, don't even putt.


 
Posts: 1376 | Location:  | Registered: March 28, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Glad to hear that your gun has been recovered!

Not an expert in this area by any means. I would imagine that part of the "processing" would be obtaining the ballistics of the gun, to see if it has any matches with any crimes it MAY have been used.
Once they find that it has not, I would imagine the return would be quick. If no one on the forum offers anything further, you could reach out to any attorney within PA to get answers
 
Posts: 24 | Location: NW Chicago Suburb | Registered: September 19, 2018Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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While each agency is different, if they have a full service crime lab, they're not "that" different.

Also, caveat inserted, HOW the gun was recovered also leads to the battery of tests performed. Usually, modern law enforcement agencies train their dudes/dudettes to process recovered handguns in a certain way. Swap gloves often so there is no cross DNA contamination, store the gun only in certain bags, and no handling without gloves. This starts the "processing" chain. The gun first goes for DNA swabs. There are certain places DNA will always be located. Once the gun is swabbed, it goes off to fingerprinting where it is printed and usable latents (if any) are obtained and catalogued. The gun goes from there to mechanical inspection and test fire. The bullet(s) are collected and sent to the (usually) the state crime lab for analysis. If it is a semi-auto, the casing(s) are collected and entered into NIBIN (National Integrated Ballistic Information Network run by the ATF). From there the gun is photographed and catalogued.

Depending on the type of recovery, it may be a year or two before you see it. (I always tell my vics a straight two years. If it finishes quicker, I'm a rock star. If it doesn't, they had their expectations set at the beginning) If it was a straight "found under a car at a party" type recovery, you may see it in a couple of months. If it was recovered from a felon, found at the scene of a double homicide, or NIBIN comes back with a hit, it may be a few years until the court preceding's play out. If it was recovered during a capital murder, you may never see it due to the gun having to maintained as evidence until all pleas and contests are completed upon appeal.

Hope this helps. If you have other questions you would like to ask offline, hit me up. We can email, or I can send you my cell.




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Posts: 35913 | Location: Logical | Registered: September 12, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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At the very least, PPD does have their own crime lab, including full-service DNA (as far as I know), so maybe the gun at least won't be sent all over God's green earth for processing.


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Posts: 19605 | Location: SE PA | Registered: January 12, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I do that sort of work, although not for Philly PD, what JD wrote above is accurate.
Mechanical, latent, and DNA swabs are reasonably quick. It how it was recovered that could take the time to drag through the courts.
You’ll get it, but I wouldn’t sit by the phone waiting on the call.
 
Posts: 218 | Location: Pa | Registered: September 20, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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FWIW: Since they notified you it's been recovered (due diligence), I'd take the officer/investigator at his/her word that they're ready and willing to return it to you. Personally (as a former detective myself), I know that it IS possible to get fast dispositions on many cases (such as a felon being a possession of stolen firearm) that allows for a rapid return to the victim of the property involved. In cases like this, a photograph of the victim simply holding/receiving the recovered item(s) will serve the necessary purposes in court.

Go to the police station with the attitude that they're willing to release it to you now, meet with the investigator that sent the letter, and there's a good chance you leave happily and with your recovered firearm.


"I'm not fluent in the language of violence, but I know enough to get around in places where it's spoken."
 
Posts: 9733 | Location: The Free State of Arizona | Registered: June 13, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Good luck. When I was burglarized and the guns out of the safe stolen, I got half of them back the next night when the thief crashed his stolen car. No processing, just "These look like the guns that Watson fellow had stolen yesterday. Call him to the scene."
I got the rest back in a few days after police looked under his bed.
But that was 13 years ago in flyover country and the offender was a juvenile. Things are different now.
 
Posts: 3071 | Location: Florence, Alabama, USA | Registered: July 05, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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A question I would have, and this could vary wildly by jurisdiction, is whether there is a central evidence storage facility/unit that keeps track of these things, and should you contact them directly to let them know that you're the owner of property.

If for legal purposes the gun has to stay in there system for an extended length of time, if the evidence people know it's your property, there may be less of a chance of it being "accidentally" melted down with the rest of the unclaimed guns they dispose of.

Hopefully (what I assume is) the detective on the case who contacted you would have set this up. But it can't hurt to double check.
 
Posts: 20770 | Registered: November 05, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Philly PD?

You’ll be lucky if you actually ever get it back
Frown


 
Posts: 29951 | Location: Pennsylvania | Registered: November 12, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thank you very much for the information. I suspected the pistol would be checked for fingerprints and fired for ballistic evidence, though it never occurred to me it would be swabbed for DNA. To clarify, the detective did not indicate his department was ready to release my pistol. Given the questions he asked during the short phone interview, I believe the investigation was just beginning. If and when the pistol becomes available for return, I'm not 100% certain it would be feasible to drive across the state to recover my property. Since it's only been three months since I was notified, it sound as though it may be a while before I'll have to make that decision. I'll be sure to update periodically. jljones - at your convenience, could you please shoot me an email. I do have a couple of more specific questions. Thanks!
 
Posts: 3135 | Location: Western PA | Registered: July 20, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I would most certainly write the department and let them know you want the gun back when court is over. Get he offenders name or case number so you can follow 5e progress. Let the courts know you want your property back(when he goes to court)

My brother had a gun stolen, it was recovered years later in east Florida and he was called by the department that discovered the gun. It was ordered returned to him after any case was adjudicated. Apparently the local sheriff office used a local pawn shop for FFL stuff and was having them return the gun. The FFL told my brother he would have to pay for a transfer and processing. My bro and the guy went around and around. Brother eventually drove across the state and spoke to a magistrate-who ordered the gun returned to him from the pawnshop/FFL. The FFL still refused to do the transfer. After my bro drove back to the magistrate and explained when was going on-the magistrate had a deputy take custody of the FFL and told him that he would sit in jail until the gun was returned and that the FFL should seek recompense from the sheriff office for the work and not the property owner.

When I was policing, if I recovered property I contacted the owner and gave the case number and what kind of case it was and how long I thought it would be before it went thru the system, so they could follow up on it at some point.

I once recovered a S&W K22 and called the owner..and I had to tell him it was a murder gun and we caught the guy...and we would have to keep it until the guy had finished all his appeals after conviction- meaning he was never gonna get his collectible gun back....uggghhh sometimes I hated having to call them

Also, we used to have a judge that didn’t care what the law was-he wanted guns destroyed. He didn’t care, he ordered guns cut up for everyone he could-even though the law at the time said that if the police could use it they could be ordered to their armory or sold with proceeds going to the local school board. So you need to get in front of this and keep checking with the investigator, call him quarterly until he dreads to hear the phone ring.



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Posts: 9545 | Location: Temple, Texas! | Registered: October 07, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Back to you




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Posts: 35913 | Location: Logical | Registered: September 12, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by PASig:
Philly PD?

You’ll be lucky if you actually ever get it back
Frown

Yep...yep...yep. I live just outside Philly. It is a corrupt, politicized machine town where the law doesn't matter much. Especially regarding guns. They don't care about the "standard" process or the law itself. Returning a gun to a legal, non-criminal, responsible owner is the last thing they want to do.

They have a Soros D.A and a P.D. that gets routinely beaten up by the politicos. I have a good friend who's a retired Philly homicide detective and lives in Philly. He'd tell you the same thing.

OP, you can give it the old college try if you want. However, I think it's a long shot you'll ever see it again. Might be able to do it with a lawyer, but then the cost of the lawyer will far exceed the value of the handgun. If it was me, I'd just write it off and save my time and money for more productive things.

OP, I noticed your location is WESTERN Pennsylvania. To quote that old line from The Wizard of Oz: "You are Dorothy, But this isn't Kansas anymore." Concludes with: "You are Dorothy, And you're in the real world now." Welcome to Philly.


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Posts: 4519 | Location: Northeast | Registered: June 29, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The US Attorney has notified you in plain language he is preparing to seize the gun under asset forfeiture laws. You need to clarify ownership with the AG. He's appear to be working under the theory that the gun was used in a crime by the owner, or that you somehow permitted it to be used in a crime. It's the same way they seize someone's rental property if the tenants are drug dealers.`
 
Posts: 16553 | Location: Lexington, KY | Registered: October 15, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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They are asking you to “abandon” your gun. I’m order for them to get rid of your firearm, I.e. destroy it, they need to forfeit the gun. The first phase of forfeiture is to notify any potential claimants that the gun is to be forfeited. If you have a legitimate claim then you can state your claim, and if you are in fact the legal owner and you have not received an insurance payout on the firearm then you should prevail.

Basically to make it simple, they are asking you to let them destroy your gun. If you want the gun back then you simply say “no” you do not wish to abandon any rights to the firearm and that you are filing a claim of ownership to the firearm and wish to have it returned.



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Posts: 5303 | Location: Albany, NY | Registered: February 28, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Correct me if I'm wrong, which I might be, but if the US Attorney's office desires, they could force the owner to go to court, in what is essentially a civil trial, to try and recover the gun. Let's just say that wouldn't be financially viable.

I would think they'd already know it's a stolen gun, and that the OP was the legitimate owner. They likely have no intention of easily returning it.

quote:
Originally posted by Lt CHEG:
They are asking you to “abandon” your gun. I’m order for them to get rid of your firearm, I.e. destroy it, they need to forfeit the gun. The first phase of forfeiture is to notify any potential claimants that the gun is to be forfeited. If you have a legitimate claim then you can state your claim, and if you are in fact the legal owner and you have not received an insurance payout on the firearm then you should prevail.

Basically to make it simple, they are asking you to let them destroy your gun. If you want the gun back then you simply say “no” you do not wish to abandon any rights to the firearm and that you are filing a claim of ownership to the firearm and wish to have it returned.
 
Posts: 20770 | Registered: November 05, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Many thanks to Fredward & Lt CHEG for the clarification re: forfeiture. I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise that the folks at government house would rather destroy property than return it to the rightful owner. For my part, I have already located the original bill of sale as well as the PA State Police "Application/Record of Sale" form to establish ownership. In addition to these, I have a copy of the Philadelphia PD Property Receipt listing my name and the make/model/serial number of the weapon. My insurance carrier is drafting a letter stating no claims were filed for the property in question. Even with this vital information, I'm still giving it a 50/50 chance my pistol will be returned. Stay tuned.
 
Posts: 3135 | Location: Western PA | Registered: July 20, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I had a pistol recovered in a small Tennessee town and if I had filled an insurance claim was one of the questions as a condition of its return. All this was prior to extensive DNA testing. It was zip tied to the bottom of a plain cardboard box. After nearly two years it was still with out rust luckily.
 
Posts: 1591 | Location: Middle Tennessee | Registered: January 28, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
semi-reformed sailor
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quote:
Originally posted by hjs157:
Many thanks to Fredward & Lt CHEG for the clarification re: forfeiture. I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise that the folks at government house would rather destroy property than return it to the rightful owner. For my part, I have already located the original bill of sale as well as the PA State Police "Application/Record of Sale" form to establish ownership. In addition to these, I have a copy of the Philadelphia PD Property Receipt listing my name and the make/model/serial number of the weapon. My insurance carrier is drafting a letter stating no claims were filed for the property in question. Even with this vital information, I'm still giving it a 50/50 chance my pistol will be returned. Stay tuned.


They only want to destroy it because it’s a gun. If it were a car, horse, computer, furniture or any other object you would not be having this problem.

Dunno how it’s gonna play out, I know the federal system is just as jacked up as the state level.



"Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor.” Robert A. Heinlein

“You may beat me, but you will never win.” sigmonkey-2020

“A single round of buckshot to the torso almost always results in an immediate change of behavior.” Chris Baker
 
Posts: 9545 | Location: Temple, Texas! | Registered: October 07, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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