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CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) -
When Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's deputies make arrests, any weapon or stolen item becomes evidence.
The types of items inside the CPSO evidence room range from narcotics and weapons, to four-wheelers and lawn care equipment.
Items like narcotics and weapons are stored in a separate evidence room at the CPSO.
Handguns are organized in orange envelopes and larger firearms, like rifles and shotguns, are organized on shelves.
"If the item was used in a violent crime, such as a gun, we will hold those weapons for evidence until the case is disposed of," Sheriff Tony Mancuso said.
Mancuso said many times, the weapons stored in the evidence room are stolen and there's only one way for the rightful owner to get them back.
"Sometimes we're not able to return the stolen property because they don't have the serial numbers or any identifying marking, so in a sense we have to hold on to that until the case is disposed of and then, of course, we can dispose of it. And that's where we do the auctions," he said.
While many items are sold to the highest bidder, weapons and narcotics are destroyed. Matt Vezinot is the Special Services Division Commander at the CPSO.
"It kind of resembles a pawn shop. We have a little bit of everything, from drug evidence to stolen property. Four-wheelers, go-karts, dirt bikes, computers, a lot of contraband items. A lot of drug items. Just a little bit of everything that people want or steal," Vezinot said.
Just this year, the CPSO collected close to 90 weapons, such as handguns, rifles and shotguns.
But over the years, Vezinot said the evidence room has had a little more than 2,300 weapons.
"That number goes up and down through attrition, through items being returned or court ordered out," Vezinot said.
But that number doesn't count other forms of weaponry like knives or hatchets. And with that much evidence, it's easy to fill up the room.
"Organization serves a purpose so that things are easily found because like we talked about, we have 100,00-plus items in evidence and if you can imagine, that sometimes it could possibly get lost just with all those items," he said.
And the only way to get stolen property back is make sure everything is properly documented.
"It could be TVs, VCRs, electronics, other electronics, certainly weapons. So, I urge people again, if you don't get anything out of this, please make sure you write down serial numbers and keep them in a safe place," Mancuso said.
All of these precautions are to make sure items and other property doesn't get into the wrong hands and eventually locked up in the evidence room.
The CPSO is already setting aside some items in the warehouse of the evidence room of unclaimed stolen items. These items will be in a public auction put on by the CPSO along with the parish and Calcasieu Parish School Board. The auction is expected to be in October.