604 – Seizure and Disposition of Stolen Property and Motor Vehicles

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Policy

Generally, a deputy who comes into custody of property alleged to have been stolen shall hold it subject to the order of the proper court only if the ownership of the property is contested or disputed [Texas Code of Criminal Procedure (CCP), Article 47.01 (a)]. When a deputy comes into custody of property (governed by Texas Finance Code, Chapter 371, “Pawnshops”) that is alleged to have been stolen, the deputy shall hold the property subject to the order of the proper court regardless of whether the ownership of the property is contested or disputed [CCP, Article 47.01 (b)].

Motor vehicles or motor vehicle parts that have had the motor, serial, or permanent manufacturer’s identification numbers removed, altered, changed, or obliterated shall be deemed stolen and shall be seized in every case.

Procedure

Once the decision to seize stolen property has been made, the deputy shall do the following: [CALEA Standard 84.1.1]

  1. Generate an incident report detailing the facts surrounding the seizure of the property to include the following data: [CALEA Standard 84.1.1 a]
  2. All identifying numbers or markings; [CALEA Standard 84.1.1 c]
  3. The approximate value of the seized property; [CALEA Standard 84.1.1 e]
  4. The name and address of the person from which the property was seized, if known; [CALEA Standard 84.1.1 f]
  5. A list of any and all persons known who may have claim to the seized property; and [CALEA Standard 84.1.1 f]
  6. The chain of custody, secure storage location, and property tag number. [CALEA Standard 84.1.1 b]

A deputy will file for the hearing directly when the alleged stolen property has been seized. The deputy shall immediately file a schedule of the property, and its value, with the court having jurisdiction of the case, certifying the property has been seized and the reason therefore. The deputy shall notify the court of the names and addresses of each party known to the deputy who has a claim to possession of the seized property [CCP, Article 47.03]. This schedule is usually filed with the justice of the peace courts if there are no charges pending [CCP, Article 47.01 (a)]. If there are charges pending, the determination of rightful possession must be determined by the court where the charges are filed [CCP Art. 47.02].

Conditions

All property, other than motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts, must be placed in the Property Room and should be submitted by the deputy who took custody of the property. Motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts shall be removed and stored using authorized moving and storage facilities (i.e., approved tow trucks and their storage lots). [CALEA Standard 84.1.1 b]

Restrictions

No property seized by any deputy may be used by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) or any member thereof until a lawful court order is received showing the property has been awarded to the HCSO.

Legal References

Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 18.17: “Disposition of Abandoned or Unclaimed Property”

Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Chapter 47: “Disposition of Stolen Property”

Texas Transportation Code, Chapter 501: “Certificate of Title Act”

Revision

This policy has been revised on the below listed dates:

April 21, 2009

September 16, 2011

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