A gun stolen in 1972 was recovered by St. Louis police in 1984. It wasn’t returned to the owner for about 25 years, until Lt. Joe Hecht took the job of straightening out the neglected evidence room, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. .Through the years, the collection of evidence, and found property turned in by residents, had piled up into a disorganized mess – eventually eating 23,000 square feet of the department’s six-story downtown headquarters.
The housekeeping disaster led to some of the police department’s recent black eyes, including an investigation that found officers had taken 2006 World Series tickets held for evidence in scalping cases, used them and then put them back in the evidence room. In 2007, internal and state audits found that $22,000 had been stolen from evidence bags and $33,000 was classified “unable to locate.” Hecht remembers thinking: “How am I going to fix this mess?” He recalled: “It was a nightmare. If you don’t clean your basement for a few years, what happens? That’s what I walked into here.”