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If the police take your car, money, merchandise, tools, clothing, jewelry, medication, or cellular phone when they arrest you, they must give you a voucher. The voucher is your receipt. It is a pink copy of a document that lists and describes everything that was taken from you. Cars, money, and personal effects are listed on separate vouchers. Boxes near the top of the voucher indicate why the property was taken. The back of the voucher contains directions for getting your property back.
Often, a prisoner is not given a voucher because he is transported to the central booking facility before the voucher has been prepared. If that happened to you, you may obtain one by going in person to the precinct of your arrest after you are released. Ask to speak to the property officer, and be prepared to tell her your arrest date, arrest number, and the name of the arresting officer. Your attorney has this information if you don't recall it. If the voucher is still not ready, ask the property officer for the number assigned to it.
You are entitled to a property voucher that is correct and complete. If the voucher is incorrect or incomplete, don't sign it. Indicate any missing item on the original white copy. If the officer forbids you to write on the voucher, or requires you to sign it, suggest that he consult his patrol guide. You do not have to sign the voucher to have your property returned. Tell your attorney if the voucher given to you is incomplete.
The police take property for four reasons:
The answer depends on whether the property was taken for safekeeping, evidence, forfeiture, or as contraband. Contraband will not be returned. If it is held as evidence, you will first need a release from the district attorney. Otherwise, you should apply directly to the police for return of your property. A listing of police property clerk offices appears on the last page of this brochure.
Items seized because the seller did not have a vendor's license are usually kept in the "large items" section in the Property Clerk's office in Queens (see address below). Advice about how to recover this category of property can be obtained from the Urban Justice Center, Street Vendor Project. Its address is:
NYPD Property Clerk Offices