Drugs, a washing machine and a huge spear - an eye-opening peek inside the police's stolen property store

Glyn Armstrong shows off a weapon similar to a medieval pike

Thousands of stolen and lost items

Hundreds of bikes are held in storage

First published in News
Last updated
The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , crime reporter

A STOLEN washing machine, seized drugs, jewellery and even a spear are just some of the items handed into police.

Glyn Armstrong, a property officer, and George Slupski, a property clerk, have the responsibility of dealing with items that are found, stolen and seized throughout Bolton.

They organise the items at their base in Bolton police station, Scholey Street.

Items are numbered and details are stored in a computerised catalogue — where they can all be retrieved within seconds if needed.

There is no item too unusual for the ex-police officers, who have booked into the systems all kinds of weird and wonderful things.

Mr Armstrong said: “I have been absolutely shocked at the things that some people hand in and come in to claim. We have had many weapons — they can be whatever is to hand — including glass bottles, air rifles, BB guns and a pike weapon.

“We still get pistols and ammunition brought in, some from World War Two, which people have found.

“We have had a washing machine that someone was caught dragging at 2am and then legged it. We once had a machine with a conveyer belt and chains, which was seized after being used for dog fighting.”

Old TVs, which have been found in back alleys, and fishing rods are among the bizarre items handed in.

Perhaps most bizarre is a huge spear-like weapon, similar to a mediaeval pike.

A large storage room and a garage house the thousands of belongings.

The sound of mobile phone ringtones — many of which have been seized during warrants — can be heard every few minutes. Something the property staff say you become used to. Mr Armstrong and Mr Slupski also store items needed for court cases.

They are kept until the case has concluded and found items are kept for 28 days. Passports and other forms of identity are returned to the relevant agencies.

Many of the unclaimed items and criminal property are auctioned and the funds ploughed back into the community.

Other things are scrapped or returned to the finder. Charities including Caritas Diocese of Salford (formerly Catholic Children's Rescue Society) benefit from some of the unclaimed and stolen items along with Bolton community groups.

In December, police gave refurbished bikes to charity Heartlift in Breightmet. They were used to give to families who were unable to buy children bicycles for Christmas.

Mr Armstrong, who has worked in the role for nearly seven years, said: “I personally find the whole job very satisfying as we still have that contact with the police — we haven’t quite left the police family. It is always satisfying when you are returning something that has been missing.

“But it is not always satisfying, for example when you are returning something that in your heart of hearts you know is stolen property but police can’t prove it — it’s the biggest bug bear.”

Mr Slupski, who has also held the role for seven years, said people who find items can keep them if nobody claims them after the cut off point.

He added it is rewarding when people ask for unclaimed items they have found to be given to charity.

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