Crime - Sacto 911

Who are the owners? Detectives find memorabilia dating back to 1800s in theft bust

Detectives with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department are searching for the rightful owners of old letters and memorabilia found among what they say were heaps of stolen property in a North Sacramento storage unit.

The documents included a black-and-white photograph of a young girl, handwritten letters dating back to the late 1800s and newspaper covers from some of the most important moments in the last century.

One newspaper cover from Vermont’s Rutland Herald published in 1945 announced that Adolf Hitler had died. A picture of then-president John F. Kennedy accompanied a story about his assassination in Dallas, Texas, donned the front page of a 1963 Sacramento Bee paper.

“I’ve never seen documents this old involved in an investigation,” said Sgt. Shaun Hampton, a department spokesman. “The detective (for this case) said, ‘I really have to make every effort to get this stuff back to these people and not just store it in an evidence room.’ 

Photos and 20th century newspapers were among items found in a North Sacramento storage unit. Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department

The documents were uncovered during a theft investigation by the department’s property crime team, who served a search warrant for the storage unit last month, Hampton said.

Once inside the storage unit, the team found several toolboxes, bikes, gardening tools and electronics. Hampton could not release the names of the suspects involved with the theft bust because they were currently in custody and involved in a theft case in a different county, he said.

On Thursday, the department took to social media to spread word of the memorabilia in hopes of reconnecting the stolen property with the rightful owner. Many of the letters were exchanged between Ada and Mortimer Hall, possibly a married couple or relatives, Hampton said. Some of the earlier correspondences originate from the East Coast, while more recent letters mostly come from Stockton.

The authors talked about day-to-day chores like doing the dishes or taking care of family members, Hampton said. Others focused on agriculture and farming.

So far, no one has come to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department to claim the items. Hampton said detectives make an effort to reconnect victims of property theft with items found in most cases.

“A lot of that stuff is pretty historic,” he said. “We’re just tying to get it back to the family.”

Nashelly Chavez: 916-321-1188, @nashellytweets