AUSTIN - The Austin Police Department's Evidence Warehouse is running out of space and that could start affecting the prosecution of criminal cases.
The 58,000 square foot facility sits in an undisclosed location in Southeast Austin and stores nearly 850,000 pieces of evidence or found property.
It is now at 95 percent capacity.
"The size of our city keeps growing. Our investigative details are doing better and better work, and we're recovering more items," said APD Commander Nick Wright, who resides over Forensics and Evidence.
Commander Wright also said an increase in officers and No-Refusal initiatives contribute to the spike in evidence collection.
The hundreds of thousands of pieces of property vary. From flat screen TVs, laptops, tires, car bumpers, bikes, beds and law equipment.
Some evidence even needs refrigeration, like blood, urine samples, sexual assault and rape kits. Then, there are the items that are under tight security, like firearms, money and drugs.
Commander Wright said he thinks the warehouse has another year or two to go before there's no more space - which worries him.
"Certain items has to be stored cold, certain items has to be stored separate from other items for DNA purposes. If I can't adequately store these items, I may not be able to test them properly in the future," said Wright.
The Commander said they are looking at either reorganizing the existing space which has its limitation or finding additional space. A difficult task for a department that won't stop growing.
People claiming their property could help clear up the backlog. But out of the 8,000 items coming in monthly, police said only a small percentage retrieve their belongings.
You can only do that by calling 512-974-6690 and making an appointment. You cannot go and browse the warehouse.
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