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Stolen guns recovered by cops aren’t always returned to rightful owners: Here’s why

What happens when a stolen gun is recovered by police?

That question was part of a recent Good Question segment by News10NBC, who looked into that question after viewers posed it.

Law enforcement agencies around the Finger Lakes and Central New York recover stolen weapons in various circumstances.


Do they get returned to the rightful, legal owner afterward? What are the steps taken by police after they’re recovered?


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The answer is mostly ‘yes’, but there are some circumstances under which police would not return the firearm.

First, everything related to the legal action involving the stolen gun has to play out. If the person pleads guilty, the process is typically smoothest and quickest. That’s because they waive their right to an appeal.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

However, if the person goes through the full-process of trial – after sentencing the person has the entirety of their prison term to appeal. In some cases, the stolen firearm may be held throughout the person’s entire sentence.

Second, are guns involved in homicides. Those are not returned. It’s permanently held as evidence. If it doesn’t fit these circumstances and the gun isn’t returned, it’s destroyed.


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