HOUSTON – The job is not finished until the paperwork is done.
While the Chickasaw County Sheriff's Department has made an arrest for theft and recovered a multitude of item, it could be some time before that property is returned to the rightful owner.
“We want people to be patient and work with us on this,” said Chickasaw County Chief Deputy James Meyers. “There is a process we have to go through and we want to point out this investigation is continuing.”
Meyers said those who have already reported something stolen are ahead of the game, but he urged those who have not reported an alleged theft to come by the Chickasaw County Sheriff's Department and file a report.
Bringing paperwork with serials numbers, photographs of the property in a person's possession or sales slips with a date and description help.
Authorities are in the process of matching more than 165 items seized against theft reports already filed.
“We have contacted authorities in surrounding counties and states and are getting serial numbers and descriptions,” said Deputy Andy Harmon who has been placed in charge of inventorying the items. “We then have to match that description, see if we can prove how and when it was stolen and put together our case.”
Maintaining a chain of evidence and gathering facts, dates and locations of reported thefts will be used by lawyers for both the prosecution and defense when and if the case goes to trial.
“The process is slow, but the system works if people will let us do our job,” said Harmon. “I will have to point out we will probably never get some of this stuff back to the rightful owner.”
In previous situations similar to this one – after the state closes its case and no owner steps forward – the items are offered to the public.
“We will probably rent a building like we did in the past, get everything out there and auction it off,” said Meyers. “That money goes to the county general fund and the sheriff's department doesn't keep it.”
Meyers and Harmon again said the first step is coming to the Sheriff's Department at 210 Harrington Street and filling out an report.
“We just ask people to be patient and understand why we need this documentation,” said Harmon. “It will take several month to sort through everything and then it has to go to trial.
“Getting property back to the rightful owner is the first priority,” said Harmon. “Getting rid of it is the final step.”