9.7.11  Abandoned Property

Manual Transmittal

November 04, 2014

Purpose

(1) This transmits revised IRM 9.7.11, Abandoned Property.

Material Changes

(1) IRM 9.7.11 has been reviewed and certified by Warrants & Forfeiture to reflect current instructions to staff as of the date of this manual transmittal. The date on TRIDOC 9.7.11.1 is updated to reflect the review and certification of the IRM.

Effect on Other Documents

This IRM supersedes IRM 9.7.11, dated May 15, 2008.

Audience

CI

Effective Date

(11-04-2014)

Domenic A. McClinton for Richard Weber
Chief, Criminal Investigation

9.7.11.1  (11-04-2014)
Overview

  1. Criminal Investigation (CI) may come into possession of abandoned or other unclaimed property when property seized as evidence is no longer needed or when items such as personal effects not subject to forfeiture are left in or on the premises of property seized for forfeiture. These items should be returned to the lawful owner.

  2. This section covers the process and procedures for the return of abandoned or other unclaimed property.

9.7.11.2  (05-15-2008)
Statutory and Regulatory Authorities

  1. The abandonment process is similar to the administrative forfeiture process. However, abandoned or other unclaimed property found by or in the possession of federal agencies is subject to the provisions of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, as amended (40 USC §552).

  2. The authority for the abandoned property procedures is contained in Title 40 USC §552, Abandoned or Unclaimed Property on Government Premises; Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 41, Public Contracts and Property Management, Chapter 102, Federal Management Regulation, Part 38, Sale of Personal Property; Part 41, Disposition of Seized, Forfeited, Voluntarily Abandon, and Unclaimed Personal Property; and Chapter 128, Department of Justice, Part 48, Utilization, Donation, or Disposal of Abandoned and Forfeited Personal Property.

  3. The General Services Administration (GSA) prescribes and issues the Federal Management Regulations.

9.7.11.3  (05-29-2002)
Tracking Abandoned Property

  1. Abandoned or other unclaimed assets must be inventoried and tracked on the Asset Forfeiture and Retrieval System (AFTRAK). Refer to the Asset Forfeiture Process Guide located on the CI Web for procedures for tracking abandoned property on AFTRAK.

9.7.11.4  (05-15-2008)
Custody and Storage of Abandoned Property

  1. Abandoned or other unclaimed property shall remain in the custody of and be the responsibility of CI as the finding agency until disposition. Criminal Investigation shall be responsible for the care and handling of abandoned or other unclaimed property pending disposition.

  2. Abandoned or other unclaimed currency or monetary instruments shall not be deposited into the Treasury Suspense Account. Abandoned or other unclaimed currency or monetary instruments may be deposited into the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Suspense Account until an owner files a proper claim or title vests in the United States.

  3. Abandoned or other unclaimed property not subject to forfeiture such as the personal effects of a defendant or occupant left in vehicles, vessels, or aircraft, or on the premises of real property should be removed prior to transfer of custody of the seized asset and retained by CI pending return to the owner.

  4. The seized property contractor will not take custody of abandoned or other unclaimed property, defined in the Statement of Work as "held property" . In cases where items not subject to forfeiture are temporarily left in or on property transferred to the seized property contractor, a separate inventory shall be completed.

9.7.11.5  (05-29-2002)
Abandonment Procedures Where the Lawful Owner is Known

  1. If the owner of abandoned or other unclaimed property is known, a letter shall be sent to the owner within 20 days of finding such property, by certified mail to the owner's address of record, notifying him/her that the property may be claimed by the owner or the owner's designee and that if the property is not claimed within 30 days from the date the letter is postmarked, title to the property will vest in the United States. See Exhibit 9.7.11-1, for a sample letter, which may be revised to meet individual circumstances.

9.7.11.6  (05-15-2008)
Abandonment Procedures Where the Lawful Owner is Not Known

  1. If the owner of abandoned or other unclaimed property is not known and the estimated value of the property exceeds $100, CI shall publish notice of intent to abandon property within 20 days of finding such property, which contains the following:

    1. a description of the property including model or serial numbers, if known

    2. a statement of the location where the property was found and that CI has custody of it

    3. a statement that any person desiring to claim the property must file a claim for the property with CI within 30 days from the date of first publication

    4. a complete mailing address of a point of contact within CI to obtain additional information concerning the property or the procedures involved in filing a claim

  2. Notice of intent to abandon property must be published once a week for at least three successive/consecutive weeks. Sound judgment and discretion must be used in selecting the publication medium. Advertisements should be placed in a publication of general circulation within judicial district where the property was found.

9.7.11.6.1  (05-15-2008)
Property Valued at $100 or less

  1. If the owner of abandoned or unclaimed property is unknown and the estimated value of the property is $100 or less, no notice is required, and the property shall be held for a period of 30 days from the date of finding the property. Upon expiration of the 30 day period, title to such property will vest in the United States.

9.7.11.7  (05-15-2008)
Declaration of Abandonment

  1. If no claim is made for the property within 30 days of the written notice, 30 days from the date of publication of the first notice, or 30 days from the date of finding the property, and if the estimated value of the property is less than $100 as described in the following subsections:

    1. See subsection 9.7.11.5.

    2. See subsection 9.7.11.6.

    Form 9445, Declaration of Abandonment, will be prepared for the signature of the Director, Field Operations, declaring the property abandoned and vesting title in the United States.

9.7.11.8  (05-15-2008)
Claims to Abandoned Property

  1. The procedures relating to claims filed for abandoned or unclaimed property contained in 41 CFR 128–48.502 and 41 CFR 48.503 are similar to the petition for remission or mitigation process covered in IRM 9.7.7, Claims and Petitions.

9.7.11.8.1  (05-29-2002)
Procedures Relating to Claims

  1. Upon receipt of a claim for abandoned or other unclaimed property, an investigation shall be conducted to determine the merits of the claim, and a report shall be submitted to the determining official in accordance with the procedures for a petition for remission or mitigation covered in IRM 9.7.7, Claims and Petitions.

9.7.11.8.2  (05-15-2008)
General Procedures

  1. Claims shall be sworn and shall include the following information in clear and concise terms (41 CFR 128-48.503):

    1. a complete description of the property including serial numbers, if any

    2. the interest of the claimant in the property, as owner, mortgagee, or otherwise, supported by bills of sale, contracts, mortgages, or other satisfactory documentary evidence

    3. the facts and circumstances, established by satisfactory proof, relied upon by the claimant to justify the granting of the claim

  2. If the claim for abandoned or other unclaimed personal property is filed before title has vested in the United States, the determining official shall not grant the claim unless the claimant establishes a valid, good faith interest in the property.

  3. If the claim for abandoned or other unclaimed personal property is filed after title vested in the United States, the determining official shall not grant the claim unless the claimant:

    1. establishes that he/she would have a valid, good faith interest in the property had title not vested in the United States; and

    2. establishes that he/she had no actual or constructive notice, prior to the vesting of title in the United States, that the property was in the custody of CI and that title, after the appropriate time period, would vest in the United States

  4. A claimant shall be presumed to have constructive notice upon publication in a suitable medium concerning the property unless there were circumstances which prevented him from knowing of the status of the property or having the opportunity to see the notice.

  5. Title reverts to the owner where a proper claim is filed within three years from the date of vesting title in the United States, but if the property has been in official use, transferred for official use, or sold at the time the property claim is approved, title shall not revert back to the former owner. The former owner shall instead obtain reimbursement in accordance with 41 CFR 102–4.

9.7.11.9  (05-15-2008)
Disposition of Abandoned Property

  1. Property declared abandoned shall be disposed in accordance with the Federal Management Regulation, 41 CFR 102.

9.7.11.9.1  (05-29-2002)
Retention and Use of Abandoned Property

  1. Property declared abandoned may be placed into official use subject to the conditions and restrictions contained in IRM 9.7.8, Disposition of Seized and Forfeited Property, specifically 9.7.8.14.

9.7.11.10  (05-29-2002)
Equitable Sharing

  1. Property declared abandoned cannot be transferred to other Federal, state, or local law enforcement agencies, or foreign countries through equitable sharing. However, these agencies may apply for transfer of abandoned property through GSA.

Exhibit 9.7.11-1 
Abandonment Letter

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Exhibit 9.7.11-2 
Declaration of Abandonment Vesting of Title in the United States

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