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Community Outreach Blotter

Looking for Lost Property? We Might Be Able to Help!

May 17, 2016 9:26 AM

In 2015 the Madison Police Department collected almost 1,800 pieces of found property.  "Lost Property" means personal property, money or other movable property that have been lost, abandoned or left on public property without the permission of the public owner. Lost property does not include items left on the terrace or in garbage or recycling containers for the scheduled sanitation pick up, items seized as evidence in police investigations, or automobiles or bicycles.

Determining that an item is lost is subjective and MPD staff is tasked to evaluate the facts and circumstances surrounding unattended items and make an educated judgment on the appropriate disposition. When in doubt, MPD staff will err on the side of treating the item as lost property and subject to MGO 8.44, unless doing so would be detrimental to personal or public safety.

Pursuant to the previsions of MGO 8.44, MPD staff is authorized to immediately dispose of lost property that either:

1. Has an estimated aggregate replacement value of fifty dollars ($50.00) or less;

2. Is perishable;

3. Poses a public health risk; or,

4. Has no sentimental, medical or legal value. Sentimental items of value include but are not limited to photographs, family bible, jewelry, letters, drawings or children's art.

The immediate disposal of items with sentimental, medical or legal value that are estimated to be valued at fifty dollars ($50.00) or less is permissible, but consideration to the nature and condition of the lost property is taken when determining the appropriateness for disposal or recovery.

Before MPD staff takes custody of lost property, an attempt must be made to notify the rightful owner of the MPD's intent to take possession of the lost property. Notice will not be required when an item, in the opinion of MPD staff, presents a danger to the public health or welfare, or where such a notice would be impractical or ineffective. The appropriateness of notification should depend on the value of the lost property and the duration of time the property appears to have been unattended.

Once the item is taken into MPD's property system, it is held for 45 days.  If no one claims the property, it is either auctioned or destroyed.  Many items MPD takes in are turned over to us by citizens.  We make every effort to reunite the items to the rightful owners. 

We provide a list of found items on MPD's website:

Citizens can submit a request of lost property here:

Finally, if you've lost an item, we recommend that you contact the Madison Police Department Property Room at 608-266-4955 to see if your item was turned over to the police.  We have also recommended that you check Craigslist lost & found for postings there.

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