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Victimized twice: Man's stolen handgun recovered, but kept as evidence

I-Team looks into Jacksonville man's efforts to get his property returned

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A local man feels like he was victimized two times. First, his home was burglarized. Police told him a year later that his property stolen was recovered by police, but it was being held as evidence. That was three years ago.

Westside homeowner Ross Greco contacted the I-Team to say he was worried he may never get his back the handgun that was stolen from his home four years ago.

Greco said someone broke into his house and into a safe inside in 2015. The person stole money and a $600 handgun he had recently purchased. Police told him the following year that police had recovered his property.

“He says we found your gun, and I (said) 'Great!'” Greco told News4Jax. "I said, 'When can I pick it up?' He said, 'Well, unfortunately, it was at the scene of a homicide. You’ll never get it back. So I asked him, 'Why not?' He said, 'Because they keep homicide stuff forever. Even though it was not the gun that killed someone, it was there.' That’s like stealing it twice."

Greco has considered legal action against the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. The I-Team learned he is one of many people facing this problem.

According to police reports, Greco’s gun was stolen from a metal cabinet in a bedroom of his home along with other items. He’s been on a one-man crusade ever since the crime happened.

“It's almost like the same thing is happening all over again, like the Sheriff's Office is stealing your weapon. That’s not fair. That's not right." said Greco. 

Greco’s ordeal is not an uncommon one. There are dozens of lawsuits filed against police departments across the country with complaints from property owners.

A deeper look into Greco’s case reveals the reason the State Attorney's Office is keeping his firearm indefinitely. The gun was found at the scene of this 2016 murder at a house party that remains unsolved.

While weapon was found inside the house, it was not the murder weapon, according to Greco. 

Chief Assistant State Attorney L.E. Hutton said any evidence found at a homicide scene is critical to their case.

“So, for instance, if you have a firearm that appears in a photograph and then at trial that firearm is missing, people are wondering what happened to that firearm? Why isn’t it being introduced into evidence? Where is it? So anything at all, the placement of an item, might have significance later on at trial, and you may not know it at the scene.” Hutton said.

The most common items held by police as evidence include cellphones, electronics, clothes, jewelry and money. Sometimes even cars and even industrial items are seized. 

We checked with local legal experts to find out if Greco or other property owners can do anything else to obtain their items back. They said each case is different and suggests consulting with a lawyer if it means that much to you.