The guilt factory
Hot tubs, seized sex toys, the occasional body part and a pickled corn snake have been kept here over the years.
There are about 121,000 exhibits lining shelves and kept in fridges and freezers in the 85,000 sq. ft. Calgary Police Evidence Property Unit . and no, we not going to tell you where it is.
While some items are strange, others gross and some downright stinky,
print cards against humanity, many are the key to solving a crime, ideally seeing courtroom convictions, in cases from murders to muggings.
Exhibits aren simply stockpiled, but meticulously filed, each piece given a bar code before being put in its place for safekeeping.
For the most part, that is pretty much where the item will stay, (some kept forever,) painstakingly protected, until it goes to court, is destroyed or sent to auction.
The goal is to ensure the exhibit is not tampered with and proves a pristine piece of evidence, absolutely unaltered from how it was found, should it go to court. Hemlow, one of 18 custodians at the warehouse.
are the continuity kings. police officers require escorts here and it not uncommon for veteran visitors to slip hands safely into pockets to prevent a fingerprint from inadvertently landing somewhere suspicious.
Cleaning staff undergo security checks and are fingerprinted, photographed and undergo a polygraph.
smells in there,
card game against humanity, Hemlow warns before offering a tour and detailing what is kept inside.
is stuff in there from cigarette butts to DNA and guns and there are screw drivers and bodily fluids. a slow day staff take in about 150 new exhibits while a busy one can see up to 500.
The annual intake has gone from nearly 70,000 in 2007 to 107,865 in 2010.
But few exhibits actually have their day in court.
officers are thorough, says Staff Sgt. Gord Eiriksson, who oversees the unit they have a file where they are not sure whether to take the sofa they take the sofa.
all the exhibits, really only one percent will see a court room. is no downplaying, however, the potential value of those which do.
can end up going to jail for life because of what we have in here, he says.
Everything is carefully categorized before being filed in an electronic database and each and every movement of any exhibit, even if simply relocated from one shelf to anther, is documented.
There are pop cans fashioned into secret drug caches, weapons and a creepy musical doll seized in a fraud investigation, where a woman allegedly went door to door with a sob story selling the items which were likely stolen.
name something and we had it, Hemlow says.
had complete fuel tanks, brand new fridges,
game humanity, a complete semi full of appliances and a hot tub, he says still befuddled at the latter exhibit.
just can believe anyone has lost a hot tub we could use a hot tub in here, he jokes.
A custodian more typically tasked with finding rightful owners of bikes, wallets and purses shakes his head at the prospect of tracking down the owner of a bent and battered shovel recently turned in to police.
citizen took the time to turn it in,
cards against humanity in stores, he shrugs.
do my best. 200 bikes come into the unit a month, kept for 30 days bikes before going up for auction.
About 300 in any given year are refurbished by prisoners at the Calgary Correctional Centre for the Calgary Kiwanis to give away.
have to keep these moving, the custodian says pointing to neat rows of bicycles, and stressing his job would be easier if people took time to report thefts to police.
have really, really high end bikes in here that no one has reported as stolen . everything belongs to somebody, it our job to do our due diligence to find them.
Boxes of licence plates, lost, never claimed or stolen, are cut into bits and destined for a shredder before being melted down for recycling.
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