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Follow procedures for found loot

Thursday, October 5, 2006

When the waters of the Spring River rise, causing widespread flooding and sending valuables downstream, looting is almost inevitable.

Hardy Police Chief Ernie Rose has some words to the wise for those who have collected items off the river. These items still belong to someone else and it's against the law to take them.

However, if the proper channels are taken those items could remain in the finders' possession.

"If they follow the proper legal channels, it's OK," Rose said.

By law, if someone takes something off the river they are to notify local authorities what items they have collected.

"Authorities can assist them in how to legally and properly advertise the merchandise," Rose said.

Within 20 days the collector must advertise the items he collected in a newspaper for three weeks. The ad must include the date, time and place the items were collected, a description of the property and an estimated value. Posters or flyers advertising the property must also be put up in the most public places in the neighborhood.

"If they don't do so legally and are later found to have property that was lost or stolen they will be charged," he said. "If they got something out of the river they need to notify the authorities. Local authorities can include the police, mayor, fire department, security -- just someone."

If the value of the property does not exceed $50 it is not necessary to advertise, according to the law.

Rose also said it is a good idea for those who have items missing from the flood to notify authorities as well.

Rose said collectors need to listen to alerts and warnings during flooding. While rescuers were searching for a man from Riverbend Park who was lost in the river, no one else was to be on the river for their safety and fear of interference with the search.

At least five people didn't follow instructions, Rose said.

In one case, a woman videotaped two men taking a trailer and a small boat that had washed upon their property, Rose said.

"Some people were still on the river despite being told not to," he said. "During an emergency situation, people need to follow instructions."

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