More often that not, however, they never make it back to their rightful owners. And so after 90 days, the City of Lubbock auctions it off.
"If there's a narcotics raid, or during a traffic stop, lots of times officers will come across lots of stolen property," according to Sgt. Jason Lewis. "When nobody ever comes for it, then City Purchasing takes it in 90 days and will sell it."
Serial numbers are the best way to prove to officials that item is actually yours. The problem is, most people don't bother keeping track of them. And without adequate indentification, police say it's hard for victims to verify something is rightfully theirs.
"If they just call up and say 'Yeah, I had my 70-inch Samsung plasma TV stolen,' we're just gonna say, 'Well great, what's the serial number?'" Lewis says. "And if they don't have it, well, we can't help them. So a burglar goes free, and we have a pile of TVs we can't do anything with."
Luckily, it's an easy fix, just keep track of identifiers like serial numbers. There's even an electronic way to do it. Websites like leadsonline.com let you create a record of your valuables. That way if they're ever stolen, there's no question it's yours.
"All you have to do is get on a computer, and yours is probably stolen, so get on your friend's, then download it and send [that record] to us," Lewis says. "So then we will have that information right then. That is so helpful for us, and helpful for you."
Police say it's a win win solution. You keep your stuff, they catch a criminal.
"It's hard to prosecute someone for a burglary that we know they committed, when we don't have a victim. So, that's another reason we really want people to take down those serial numbers," Lewis says. "The faster we can get those people locked up, the the faster we can slow down crime in our city."