What Happens When You Find A Working 42″ Plasma-Screen TV in the Mission and Try to Do the Right Thing By Telling SFPD About It

Basically you’re in for a world of hurt. Reader MC found a TV on the above street corner a couple months back, and we all puzzled over what to do in a post titled What Would You Do If You Found A Working 42″ Plasma-Screen TV on a Street Corner in the Mission? MC decided to notify the cops of his find, and they came by and  confiscated it, telling him he might be able to claim it later if its rightful owner didn’t show up. MC wrote in yesterday with an update:

Alright.. here’s the update on the TV.  It’s probably not that intersting, but I have to write it in the assumption that the SFPD have stolen the TV and I’ll have to file an OCC against them anyway, so I might as well send it on to you.

About two weeks after the police officers took the TV from me, I called the number on the Police Report.  The woman on the phone asked for my case number, and describe the situation.  When I began to explain she stopped and said “Wait – you found a 42-inch TV on the STREET?’ and I said ‘yes’ and she said ‘…and you decided to call the police…?’

After she confirmed the TV was, in fact, still in the property room, she told me I had to go to the 5th floor of the Hall of Justice to turn in paperwork if I were to claim the TV after the requisite 120 days.  She then said ‘but you want to do it soon — it’s going to take a while.’  That was an understatement, as I was soon to discover.

On Tuesday 1/25/11 — almost exactly 2 months to the day I turned in the TV, I went to 850 Bryant’s 5th floor.  I walked in to an unhelpful officer, who handed me a page of instructions 9 steps long and told me ‘good luck.’  The first step was to fill out the form and take to Department 18 on the 2nd floor.  The following step was to take the document to the first floor.

I walked in to be greeted to a public explanation that everyone in the room would be required to submit to regular drug testing.  A woman next to me was approached by a man in her suit, obviously her lawyer, who said ‘I bet it feels good to wear normal clothes!’ while a woman a few chairs away was still in an orange jumpsuit.

When the woman was done with her speech about rehab, I approached and she reviewed the form and passed it to another lady behind the bench.  The woman placed it in a pile of papers, and I sat down.  After a few minutes, another helpful staff member called me over and explained to me that I wasn’t going to get the document back today.  The conversation went as follows:

Him: “You’ll have to come back.”
Me: “OK — where do I have to come back to?  This room?”
Him: “Yes. Here.”
Me: “OK — how long?”
Him: “Tomorrow.”
He pointed to a box that says ‘For Pick-Up’ and tells me I can get the paper tomorrow from that box.

At this point, I have to put the process on pause — and I’m only at Step 2.

I leave, and come back 24 hours later back to Department 18. Again, lots of sad looking people being told about rehab.  I finally get the paper, and pick a date for my court date about one month out.  I take the paper to the first floor (the third floor in just as many steps).  After a brief wait, I’m informed that I have to provide the staff with 2 additional copies of the document, plus the original for him to stamp. He is not allowed to make copies for me.  There is no public copier in the building.

I leave, frustrated and ride to the closest copy shop and make 3 copies.  I return, get back in the same line and wait for help.  This time, I’m greeted by a woman.  She informs me that I don’t have a court case number and that I must write that I’m the defendant in the court case.  I explain that there was no crime committed, and that I found the TV and turned it in.  She, nicely, calls me an idiot and attempts to dissuade me from following through, because if I get the TV back, I will be listed as a defendant and it will likely show up on any future background check.

Finally, they stamp each of the documents and tell me that they must keep the two copies AND the original on the first floor.  But, the instructions say I need an additional two copies for the SFPD (Floor 5) and the District Attorney (Floor 3).  I explain that I’ve already entered the building twice, and rode my bike a few blocks to make the first round of copies; and she very nicely decides to hook me up with two more copies, no charge (thanks, lady!).

Now, I’ve turned in all forms as required — on floors 1, 3, and 5 of the same building — and am at Step 5 of the process.  I have to wait for my court date on Feb. 19th at 9 AM, where I’ll return to Department 18 for my trial.  Thankfully, these nine helpful instructions tell me what to do in case this doesn’t work and I’ve got at least another 3-5 hours before I’m a registered criminal with a 42″ Plasma TV…

Explore posts in the same categories: Crime

24 Comments on “What Happens When You Find A Working 42″ Plasma-Screen TV in the Mission and Try to Do the Right Thing By Telling SFPD About It”

  1. tacotron Says:

    jesus christ.

  2. salsaman Says:

    I said “best to call the police,” but I never said MC should do the best thing.
    Amazing that it’s worth his time to sit through this bureaucratic hell for a pissed-on, bedbug-ridden, probably-doesn’t-work plasma.

  3. Stu Says:

    At least the bedbugs nestled in the corner of the TV are now terrorizing all of those unhelpful people there at 850 Bryant. Not legally obligated, I avoid that building like the plague.


  4. OK, so officially, the punished parties are the readers of this blog who have to endure your unending litany of complaints, when we told you in the first place not to do anything about the TV at all. What sort of a dimwit ARE you, Stanley?

  5. olu Says:

    it really shouldn’t be that hard to get free shit from the street… oh wait, I guess it isn’t.

  6. Your Fucking Dad Says:

    Sorry to harsh your buzz but you ARE getting a FREE 42″ plasma TV, right?

    So, yes, the red tape sucks. However, no, I don’t give a shit how frustrated it makes you.

    • MC Says:

      If I get the TV, I’ll be very surprised. And, as to the second point, I’m not bitching- I’m trying to point out (and hopefully correct) the stumbling blocks for me, a well-educated english-speaking white male, so those who have to deal with this bullshit process later can hopefully have an easier time.

      • elly Says:

        Yeah, it really makes you wonder how we can expect people who are struggling with mental illness or other challenges to handle this level of bureaucracy in our police departments and legal systems. I am currently on hold with the IRS so I was thinking about similar things already, and now I read this and it drives it home. I honestly don’t know how most people get by in this world of sysstemmms. I am educated, smart, and speak english, and I can barely manage it.

      • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable Says:

        Yeah, I agree. It is pretty bullshit that you are being forced to jump through all these hoops just for trying to do the right thing. Have you considered talking to your Supervisor and seeing if they can help you on on this at all?

  7. hoboking Says:

    I’m not shocked by this tale, it sounds like any attempt to file a set of legal documents as seen through the eyes of a pro per. Yes, the process is Byzantine, yes, the forms are confusing, yes, the clerks generally refuse to copy things, yes, court dates are set some time out, yes, you will likely have your petition tossed back because the box on line four wasn’t filled in right, or you needed to include another previously unmentioned form. Did they mention that some obscure local form needs to be filed on special colored paper yet? Meh. Welcome to the law.

  8. Zouaf Says:

    Why would you expect anything else from a bureaucracy?


  9. Did this experience convince you to not involve the police and the city law enforcement bureaucracy (paid for by your, and my, tax bills) the next time you see something abandoned on a streetcorner? Yes. Mission accomplished then.

    Next time, if your conscience pricks you, put up some signs saying “Hey, did you lose something kinda valuable on this corner? Email (temporary yahoo account) with a description and I’ll get it back to you.”

  10. MC Says:

    Here’s the very convoluted (and incorrect) directions for everything I’ve been going through. http://www.scribd.com/full/47696912?access_key=key-1ufa5isylwjq4rjl2jzc

    Do note the photocopied crease and typewriter font; which is so old that Room 300 (Step 5) doesn’t even exist anymore.

  11. Ferocious Foot Odor Says:

    You need to lance that plasma boil and move on.

  12. James O'Boston Says:

    I think this is useful not because it’s a story about getting a free tv the legal+dorky way, but because there are people trapped in that same legal system who didn’t opt in, can’t opt out, and don’t have the resources to zig and zag as our beloved correspondent can.

    We should take note of that. and WTF anyway with that fucked up bureaucracy? what the fucking fuck? That’s not acceptable!

  13. Cheese Sam Says:

    Kafka-esque. Keep your eye out for Joseph K. on your next trip to The Castle, aka 850 Bryant.

  14. Renzomatic Says:

    I’ll buy it off you for $100, cool?

  15. marco Says:

    I hope you’re doing this for the story behind it, because why would you turn in turn in a TV found on the street to the police otherwise? Anyway, I look forward to hearing about how it goes in court… wouldn’t it be really Kafka-esque if you end up in jail for possession of stolen property or something?

  16. oh Says:

    must be from the mid-west honest country.

  17. el stev Says:

    Hey MC, may I join in for the court date? I want to take pictures. This is an amazing adventure


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