Section 45-19-231

Abandoned and stolen property.

(a)(l) The sheriff shall keep and maintain a permanent record of all abandoned and stolen personal property recovered by the sheriff's office. These records shall state the description of the property, the date of recovery of the property, the serial or other identifying number of the property, and the place of recovery of the property. The records shall be open to public inspection at all reasonable times.

(2) All abandoned or stolen property recovered by the sheriff's office shall be stored in a suitable place to protect the property from deterioration.

(b) If the abandoned and stolen personal property is of a perishable nature and reasonable attempts to locate and identify the owner of the property are not successful, the property may be sold at once without notice. The sheriff shall attempt to obtain the best possible price for the property. The proceeds of such a sale shall be held in a separate account for a period of six months for the owner. During this period, the proceeds shall be paid to the owner upon demand, less any cost of recovery, storage, maintenance, and sale. If the proceeds are not claimed within six months, after deducting and paying all expenses incurred in the recovery, storage, maintenance, and sale of the property, the net funds shall be paid to the office of the Sheriff of Coosa County.

(c)(l) The sheriff shall keep and maintain a separate permanent record of all abandoned and stolen firearms, not subject to disposition by general law. The records shall state the description of the firearm, the date of recovery of the firearm, the serial or other identifying number, if any, of the firearm, and the place of recovery of the firearm. Firearm, as used in this section, shall have the same meaning as defined in Section 13A-8-1.

(2) Unless otherwise provided by law, the sheriff may sell or destroy these firearms if the owner of the firearm does not claim the firearm within six months of the date the sheriff obtained it.

(3) The sheriff may sell the firearms only to gun dealers who have a current federal firearms license on the date of the sale. A firearm shall be sold to the gun dealer submitting the highest sealed bid. All sales shall be on a cash basis. The proceeds of the sale, after deducting and paying all expenses incurred in the recovery, maintenance, and sale of the firearms shall be paid to the office of the Sheriff of Coosa County.

(4) The sheriff may establish a procedure to destroy firearms and may expend necessary sheriff's office funds for that purpose.

(d)(l) At least every six months, the sheriff may sell at public auction or on an Internet auction provider, such as GovDeals.com, to the highest bidder for cash all abandoned or stolen personal property, other than firearms, which has been recovered by the sheriff and has remained unclaimed by the rightful owner during the preceding six-month period.

(2) Prior to the sale, notice shall be given by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in Coosa County once a week for two successive weeks and by posting a notice in a conspicuous place at the Coosa County Courthouse for a period of at least 20 days. The notice shall contain the place, date, and time of each auction and a description of each item of personal property to be sold at the auction. If publication of notice is made in the newspaper, the first notice shall run at least 20 days prior to the auction.

(e) The owner of any abandoned or stolen personal property recovered by the Coosa County Sheriff's Office, including firearms, may claim the property at any time prior to its sale by submitting sufficient proof of ownership as determined by the sheriff and by paying any reasonable expenses incurred in the recovery of the property, its maintenance, storage, and a pro rata share of the costs, if any, of publication of notice of the sale of the property.

(f) If property is sold at public auction, as provided in this section, a notation in the storage record book shall be made of the sale and of the amount received for the property. The person making the sale may reject any and all bids if the amount bid is unreasonably low and may continue the sale, from time to time, if no bidders are present.

(g) The proceeds from the sale of property at an auction conducted under the authority of this section, after deducting and paying all expenses incurred in the recovery, storage, maintenance, and sale of property, shall be paid to the office of the Sheriff of Coosa County. The sheriff shall use these proceeds exclusively for the purposes of law enforcement.

This section shall not apply to abandoned motor vehicles. Abandoned motor vehicles shall be sold pursuant to Chapter 13 of Title 32.

(Act 97-538, p. 944, §§1-7; Act 2016-372, §1.)