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If it shows up as stolen in NCIC....

...(or whatever they use now)it will normally be returned to the rightful owner after it fulfills any evidentiary value.

The problem is that unless they were just stolen recently, they're usually a rusted, scraped, and scuffed up piece of junk by the time they are returned. The bad guys rarely care for them, the recovering officer marks the weapon permanently, then they sit around uncared for in an evidence locker for months or years.

I saw a recovered first generation Colt Peacemaker that at one time looked like it had rolled out of the factory the week prior and was worth about $3000. (And this was thirty years ago!) When it was returned to the owner it had bad surface rust, someone had converted the 7 1/2 inch barrel into a snubnose (with no front sight), carved his name into the grip, and the left side of the receiver had the arresting officer's initials and the date scratched into the steel.

It was basically worthless.

That's one of the reasons I'm a big believer in gun safes. If it's not on my hip and I'm not home, it's locked in the safe.

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