Three decorative Alaska Native-style masks. Two ornately decorated jewelry boxes. A pair of woven baskets.
Juneau Police Department Lt. Kris Sell has her fingers crossed that posting photos of those presumably stolen items on JPD’s Facebook page will lead to its rightful owners.
The Facebook post said the items were possibly stolen property and included collections of Magic, baseball and Pokemon cards.
Sell confirmed that the items were recovered recently from an impounded vehicle, but declined to be more specific because it is still an open case. She added that the boxes in the photos were full of jewelry — nothing that appeared to be extremely valuable, more like daily wear pieces.
“We would sure like to know where these items came from and if they were not in the car legitimately,” she said in an interview.
Sometimes the police department ends up impounding vehicles for a variety of reasons and getting search warrants because of the circumstances or what can be seen inside the vehicle, Sell explained.
“Sometimes you run across property that makes your radar go up, like collections of cards and multiple jewelry boxes,” she said. “We have a burglary problem in Juneau, so we’re always on the lookout for property that might have been stolen.”
Posting photos is helpful in identifying stolen belongings because descriptions can be open to interpretation.
Victims often find it difficult to accurately inventory their property, Sell noted, adding that sometimes they might not even realize a particular piece is missing from their home. And if the police department issues a press release that simply lists a “brown wooden jewelry box,” the victim might not realize it’s their property until they see that photo.
Sell said the uniqueness of them items made her very optimistic she would get solid leads.
“This is a way to talk directly to the public: ‘Do you recognize these items?’ We’re trying to take advantage of our access to this property, to take extra steps to help identify items,” she said. “We’ve had good luck lately, so we’re going to work this tactic as long as it works. We’ll use every tool; we have no shame.”
After all, Sell reasoned, if law enforcement can improve its communication with the public, they’ve “deputized every law-abiding citizen.”
Just four hours after Sell posted regarding the items on the JPD Facebook page, the post had reached more than 3,200 people and been shared 52 times.
“That’s just a staggering reach,” she said. “It makes our reach exponential.”
It’s unknown if the Alaska Native-style masks are authentic. An employee of Mt. Juneau Trading Post chimed in on Facebook that they might be mass-produced knockoffs. The employee told the Empire that if the masks were authentic, they might be worth $900 up to a few thousand dollars.
Anyone who has information on the items is urged to contact JPD Officer Terry Allen or the shift supervisor at 586-0600.
• Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 523-2246 or email@example.com.