Each year at the University of Richmond, hundreds of items are lost by students and claimed by the police department, with the hope of returning them to their rightful owners. More often than not, however, these lost items go unclaimed.
URPD began an annual auction for unclaimed property at Richmond four years ago.
This year’s bidding for any unclaimed items will take place on Oct. 8. It is being led by Sgt. Jeff Riley, who has been the university’s property manager for the past five years.
Riley said that when he became property manager, he was surprised by the waste of how much was lost or thrown away each year. He created the auction four years ago to give students an opportunity to claim their missing items and allow other students to buy items that were not originally theirs for a cheap price. This year’s potential auction items range from jewelry to bicycles to cell phones and headphones.
This year's auction will be primarily digital. Each item will be on display at the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness, with a QR code. Bidders will then be able to scan the QR code with any QR scanner app available.
Once scanned, the code will take bidders to a bid page for the item. Bidders then fill out their information and place their bid. The auction is not silent, so bidders can see the highest current bid. URPD contacts the highest bidder at the end of the auction.
Riley said that in the past, the auction has made around $1,500 annually, all of which went directly to the University of Richmond and did not benefit the campus police department specifically.
“The police department would much rather find the rightful owners of the property than sell them in the auction,” Riley said.
Last year, sophomore Meghan Murphy lost her Bluetooth headphones and a pair of sunglasses on campus. She called the URPD non-emergency hotline to try to get them back, she said, but she was unable to find her lost possessions.
“I think the auction is a great way for people to get their lost items back because it is really frustrating to lose something on campus and then have to buy a replacement,” Murphy said.
Sometime in the future, URPD is hoping to create a lost-and-found website that students would be able to check regularly and where they could claim any items they might have lost.
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