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Forgotten items accumulate at courthouse

Posted: September 12, 2012 - 12:07am
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In addition to knives and other items confiscated by security screeners at the Justice Center, officials also have accumulated a lost-and-found inventory of items left by visitors.   Photo by Barry Paschal
Photo by Barry Paschal
In addition to knives and other items confiscated by security screeners at the Justice Center, officials also have accumulated a lost-and-found inventory of items left by visitors.

If you’ve left an item behind while visiting the Columbia County Justice Center, chances are it’s sitting in a box waiting to be picked up, along with hundreds of others.

Columbia County Sheriff’s Lt. Dan Berry, chief bailiff for the Justice Center, has been collecting those items in cardboard boxes marked “lost and found” since taking charge of security at the Evans facility seven years ago.

Some of the items – including cell phones and sunglasses – were left in courtrooms. Others were confiscated at the security station inside the front door.

The latter consist mostly of knives and similar instruments, prohibited inside the building.

“We give them the option of returning it to their car,” Berry said. “If they don’t have time, we can hold onto it without responsibility for it. It’s their responsibility to pick it back up.”

Most do. For those who don’t, the items go into the lost and found boxes until the owners claim them.

That includes car keys.

Piles of car keys have been left behind in courtrooms or, with pepper spray or pocketknives attached, taken up at the security station. It’s a puzzle to security officials how the owners manage to leave the building without them.

“We don’t know how car keys just keep showing up,” Berry said, chuckling. “But when they come (to court), they’ve got some things on their minds. When they leave, they’ve probably got a lot more on their mind.”

Those who think they’ve left something can call the security control room at (706) 312-7300 and leave a description of the item along with contact information. If the lost items are found, the owner will be notified to pick it up from the security station, Berry said.

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