The University of Richmond police department is searching for the owners of 18 abandoned bicycles and other unclaimed personal property before the items are turned over to Green UR for public sale early next semester.

The police department has been collecting this batch of abandoned property for about six months, Police Lieutenant Eric Beatty said. Property is deemed abandoned if it obviously hasn't been used in a while, Beatty said.

Police have collected "anything that has become an eye sore," he said. When they have no way of telling whose property it is or how long it's been there, landscaping and the police will remove items and hold them in storage until sale. Beatty urges students and community members to scan the list of property and contact him if they believe a listed item is their property. Beatty can be reached at (804) 289-8723 or ebeatty@richmond.edu.

Owners will have to give some type of descriptor of the property, Beatty said, such as the color of the bike and where it was locked. The items listed that are not bikes are stolen property that the police have obtained with search warrants, Beatty said. When an owner of the stolen property cannot be identified, the property is held as unclaimed.

Virginia code states that the police department may put unclaimed personal property up for public sale after the property has been in its possession for 60 days. Bicycles only have to be held for 30 days before being sold or donated, according to the state law.

Campus police often hold the items a little longer than necessary because of the nature of the population they work with, Beatty said.

"With students moving around, changing dorms, being away and going abroad, we like to hold them longer to try to make sure a student doesn't want it," he said.

Beatty said he was concerned by the volume of abandoned property they had collected. Students leave their bike somewhere and think it's safe, he said. Then eventually the tires go flat, they don't use it or the seat goes missing.

This year, the university implemented a new program to try to reduce the number of bikes left on campus, Beatty said. Parking Services has started tagging bicycles to encourage owners to register their bikes, but registration is optional, he said.

"If they would register their bicycles, it would be a huge help in situations like the university is encountering here," Beatty said. Bike registration is available on the Parking and Transportation webpage at http://parking.richmond.edu/registration/bike-registration.html.

Bicycles that remain unclaimed will be donated to Green UR. Campus sustainability manager Megan Zanella-Litke and Green UR president Caitlin Bonney are hoping to hold a sale for these bikes and other items in January 2014, Bonney said. They are unsure when they will be able to receive the bikes, however, and are concerned they may not have time to make necessary repairs in time for that date, she said.

In the past, the bike sale has relied on donations from people who didn't want their old bikes, Zanella-Litke said. The unclaimed, abandoned property that the police department had collected had gone to the annual yard sale held by the Sierra Club, a national environmental awareness organization, Beatty said.

"Now we're fortunate enough to have a group on campus that is doing it, and hopefully we can help them out," he said.

The police station will donate the leftover items to Green UR, and the organization will recondition the bikes and sell them to the university community, Beatty said. Zanella-Litke said she thought selling bikes was a great alternative for students who need transportation, she said. All proceeds from the sale will be put toward enhancing the bike-friendliness of campus, Zanella-Litke said, such as adding a new bike rack.

Students, faculty and community members have until the bikes are donated to Green UR, around Jan. 16, to claim their property, Beatty said.

Contact reporter Kylie McKenna at kylie.mckenna@richmond.edu

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