The property and evidence function of the Dubuque Police Department is part of the Staff Support Services Division. Primary responsibilities include storing and maintaining property seized as evidence, turned over as found property, or held for safekeeping. Related responsibilities include submission of items to the state crime lab for testing, coordinating with the County Attorney's Office when items are needed as evidence in court, and disposal of items that are unclaimed and no longer needed, as permitted by state code.
Additional property and evidence duties include acting as a liaison between the police department and the City's contracted tow service, handling sales of police fleet vehicles, and review of requests for in-city hunting permits.
Property & Evidence Voucher
The Dubuque Police Department will issue copy of a Property & Evidence Voucher (PEV) form to anyone that property is taken from, regardless of the reason taken. The PEV includes the name of the officer taking or receiving the property, the date and time taken or received, and an inventory of the property.
Information for Persons from Whom Property Was Taken
The back of the Property & Evidence Voucher provides the following information to the person that the property was taken or received from:
Iowa Code requires that notice be given to individuals from whom property is taken. This receipt will act as that notice. If you wish to file a claim seeking immediate return of the seized property, you must file that claim within thirty (30) days of this notice with the Dubuque County Clerk of Court. The claimant (you) shall cause copies of the application to be delivered to both the Dubuque County Attorney's Office and the Dubuque Police Department.
Property Taken as Evidence
Law enforcement officers may seize property to be used in prosecution of a criminal case. When the property is no longer needed as evidence, it can be returned to the person with the right of possession unless possession of the property is illegal or there is a forfeiture action pending.
To have property returned once it is no longer needed as evidence (not immediate return, as outlined above), a person must file a written claim with the police department within thirty (30) days of this notice. Property Claim Forms can be obtained in person at the police department or at www.cityofdubuque.org/propertyevidence. After filing a claim, the claimant must notify the police department in writing of any change in contact information. Return of firearms and/or ammunition will require a seized property hearing before the court.
Property Taken for Safekeeping
Property which constitutes an imminent danger to a person's health, safety, or welfare may be seized. The law enforcement agency taking the property is required to release the property when it no longer constitutes such a danger.
If you feel property should be returned and the agency in possession of it refuses to do so, you may file a claim for the return of seized property with the Dubuque County Clerk of Court within thirty (30) days of notice from the police department. If a claim is filed, the Clerk's Office will arrange for the court to conduct a hearing to determine if the property should be returned or whether the law enforcement agency can retain possession. Return of firearms and/or ammunition will require a seized property hearing before the court.
Property Subject to Forfeiture
If you have received a forfeiture notice, read it carefully and consider seeking advice from an attorney. Failure to file a claim for return of forfeited property within statutory time limits will result in loss of any right you may have to the property. If you are indigent and the value of the property to be forfeited exceeds $500.00, you have a right to court-appointed counsel. You should contact the Clerk of Court if you wish to have counsel appointed to represent you.
A claimant must take possession of property within thirty (30) days after the final disposition of a seized property hearing or notification by the police department that the claimant make take possession; failure to do so will deem the property abandoned and it will be disposed of in accordance with state code.
Property Claim Form
The Dubuque Police Department's Property Claim Form can be used in accordance with state code to file a written claim of ownership interest or possessory right to property being held by the police department. The form documents the claimant's interest in taking possession of the property once it is eligible for release by the police department. The claim form must be submitted within thirty (30) days of notice from the police department. In addition to a claim form, a person wishing to take immediate possession of property must file for a seized property hearing with the Dubuque County Clerk of Court.
A person wishing to claim a firearm and/or ammunition must file a Property Claim Form, obtain a criminal history record check through the DCI, and file for a seized property hearing with the Dubuque County Clerk of Court (see below).
Currently, the Dubuque Police Department cannot accept electronic submission of Property Claim Forms. Completed forms may be dropped off in person or mailed to:
Dubuque Police Department Attn: Property & Evidence Coordinator 770 Iowa St. Dubuque, IA 52001
Filing for a Seized Property Hearing
Seized property hearings are hearings before the court to determine possessory right of property. They are used when someone desires immediate return of property seized by the police department or when multiple claimants have filed a claim of ownership interest or possessory right to the same property.
Seized property hearings are required before a claimant may take possession of a firearm and/or ammunition from the police department; this is done to verify not only that the person is the lawful owner of the property in question, but also to verify that the person may legally possess firearms and/or ammunition.
Property will only be released to the person named in the court order resulting from a seized property hearing, if property return is granted by the court. The police department requires that person to present a government-issued photo ID/DL and to have that ID/DL photocopied at the time the property is returned.
A person wishing to file for a seized property must do so through the Dubuque County Clerk of Court. The filing is required by code to be done electronically on the Iowa Judicial Branch's Electronic Filing (eFiling) website. The Clerk's Office and the police department are prohibited from instructing you about what content to include in your filing and from providing legal advice.
To file for a seized property hearing, follow the steps below:
Iowa Code 714.28 defines a "claimant" as a person who claims that the person's property was misappropriated (stolen, embezzled, converted, or otherwise wrongfully appropriated against the will of the rightful owner).
If a claimant locates his/her misappropriated property at a pawnbroker, it is the claimant's responsibility to notify the pawnbroker either 1) by certified mail, return receipt requested, or 2) in person evidenced by signed receipt, of the claimant's claim to the property. This notice must contain a complete and accurate description of the property and must be accompanied by a copy of the police report documenting the misappropriation of the property.
If the claimant and the pawnbroker do not resolve the right to possession within ten days after the pawnbroker's receipt of the notice, the claimant may petition the district court sitting in small claims to order the return of the property, naming the pawnbroker as a defendant, and shall serve the pawnbroker with a copy of the petition.
The pawnbroker shall hold the property described in the petition until the right to possession is resolved by the parties or by the court.
Found property turned in to the Dubuque Police Department is maintained in accordance with Iowa Code. The police department will attempt to contact the owner, if known. If the owner of the property is unknown, the property will be disposed of after a ninety (90) day holding period. If you find property that you would like to turn over to the police department, please contact dispatch at 563-589-4415 at any time.
If you have lost property and would like to inquire if it is in police custody, please call 563-587-3801 between 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM on Monday - Friday.
The Dubuque Police Department is in possession of property belonging to the following individuals, though no current address or phone number is known. These individuals should contact Cpl. Travis Kramer at 563-587-3801 before 4:30 PM on Monday, February 20, 2023 to claim their property: Melissa E. Burke, Patrick J. Murphy, and Chad M. Sautter.