ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Every few months, police in Anchorage empty out the evidence locker and lost-and-found drawers. The miscellany found within -- guns, artwork, furniture and other knick-knacks -- is then auctioned off to the public.
On Saturday, one of those auctions cluttered a high-ceilinged room with 114 firearms, jewelry, sound equipment and electronics, reported the Alaska Dispatch News (http://bit.ly/1JqL7KF ).
Amid Smith & Wesson revolvers, .22 caliber pistols and a German military luger lurked a number of unexplained objects, like a pink iPod and gold-plated coins labeled "In memory of Titanic victims."
Police "don't have the staffing to entertain historical questions," explained Amber Garrison, head of the Anchorage Police Department's evidence unit.
So questions about how some items came into police possession remain unanswered.
Grubstake Auction warehouse owner Ron Alleva said he's seen a snowplow, a kayak and a brand-new wood-splitter pass through his doors.
"You wouldn't believe the odd things that come in," he said. "And you wonder, 'How in the world did anyone ever lose that?'"
He also pointed out the 9-caliber German luger, which auctioneers described as a collectible. Alleva said a bidder bought that gun online for $925 on Saturday.
Most gun bidders said Saturday that they weren't too concerned about where the firearms came from.
"I don't care about the criminal history of these guns; I'm more interested in the real history of a gun, the price history," said Ted Ireton, a gun dealer who bought three guns to resell.
The guns could be linked to a crime, but many were not seized during a criminal investigation. Police also auction off guns that have been lost or abandoned or those held for safekeeping on behalf of an owner who never returned, said Garrison.
For items held for safekeeping and not reclaimed, police investigate to see if the object was stolen and try to find the rightful owner.
Guns or other objects forfeited in a criminal case, however, go straight to auction, according to Garrison. And firearms used in major crimes like homicide never go to public auction.
A state law requires police to hold evidence in such cases for at least 50 years, Garrison said.
Information from: Alaska Dispatch News, http://www.adn.com