Sitting on a shelf filled with baseball bats, pool cues and other pieces of evidence is a child’s brown fishing rod.
“It was a child abuse case,” says Nicole Rapp, Anaheim PD’s Senior Property Technician. “A father beat his son with it.”
Rapp is part of a team responsible for the safekeeping of more than 150,000 pieces of evidence.
DNA samples from unsolved rape cases. Feces from “a rather disgusting” 2007 burglary. A sawed-off shotgun with a brown bandana wrapped around the handle.
“This one belonged to a gang member,” Rapp says.
The items are stored across 10,000 sq. ft. of internal and external police department space. Inside two giant freezers are boxes of blood-soaked clothing and other evidence from unsolved homicides. A wall-sized red safe is stuffed with seized cash.
As Rapp walks along a corridor stacked with AK-47s, Uzis and other high-powered assault rifles, she displays one wrapped in paper.
“These ones usually have blood or some other type of DNA evidence on them,” she says.
Inside a box tagged “homicide” is a revolver that a bank robber used to kill himself after a high-speed pursuit.
The suspect was trapped at the end of a south Orange County pier, recalled Officer Bill Segletes.
“We had him surrounded,” he said. “The Harbor Patrol was even waiting for him in the water.”
There’s a four-foot tall lawn penguin. A giant wire letter “P.” A box filled with license plates.
“There was an old log that was used in a crime of some sort,” Rapp says “I’m not sure if it was used as a weapon or if somebody’s blood ended up on it.”
Rapp’s team processes up to hundreds of items a day. During a recent shift, they returned a camera to the father of a slain woman.
“That one was special,” she said. “It had pictures of his daughter and granddaughter’s first trip to Disneyland and an Angels game.”
How long does the department keep evidence?
When a case closes, they attempt to return usable merchandise. They donate some items to charity, send others to a police auctioneer or, in the case of more than 500 firearms a year, they destroy them.
What are the most common items?
Two decades ago, it was drug-related pipes and pagers. Today, it’s cell phones and computers.
What about items from unsolved cases?
“It’s all here,” she says, pulling out an unsolved homicide folder from the early 1980s.
The items being stored, she says, include “a blanket, a wig, high heels, condoms and Vasoline.”