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September 24th, 2005

The Property Clerk Division

As an amateur historian, I was fascinated with the NYPD’s Property Clerk Division. I wanted to see what they had saved. What I learned was: not much. Before I go any further, as far as I can tell they have their act together now, which I detail in the book. They got serious about storage when they starting using DNA forensically.

Prior to that, things were thrown out or lost in various ways. For almost 100 years, weapons were taken out to sea and sunk. In 1933, 3,816 guns, knives and swords were dumped into the sea at the Scotland Lightship station off the New Jersey coast. A couple of years later 1,575 phony token slugs were dumped into the Long Island Sound at Eaton’s Neck in Huntington Bay, along with 500 slot machines and 4,000 weapons. Two years after that the Property Clerk poured 10,000 gallons of wine, whiskey and beer into the Lower Bay. As of the 70’s they were still throwing what they could into the various bodies of water in New York, but in the 80’s they began melting handguns down in a foundry in Pennsylvania. Rifles and knives were put in a metal shredder.

One day, while going through photographs at One Police Plaza, I found a shot of them destroying the slot machines they would shortly throw into the water at Eaton’s Neck (not far from where I grew up, coincidentally).

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