Upper Darby police say $8,000 is missing from their evidence room and may have gone up in smoke.

Police Superintendent Michael J. Chitwood said that his department was investigating the money's disappearance, but that he feared it might have been accidentally destroyed. He asked the District Attorney's Office to conduct a separate investigation.

Police confiscated the money in November 2009 after responding to a report of a domestic dispute and finding marijuana, crack cocaine, and the cash in the home.

The cash and other evidence were placed in a lockbox accessible to only a few people, Chitwood said.

The disappearance was discovered May 5 after a Delaware County judge ruled the search of the home illegal and ordered the cash returned, Chitwood said.

"Everything was in the evidence box but the $8,000," he said. "We have searched the entire evidence room twice."

An evidence technician remembered being interrupted by an emergency while counting the money and may not have returned the evidence envelope to its proper box, Chitwood said. The envelope might have been mistakely destroyed by the department, which periodically burns unneed evidence, he said.

The township cut an $8,000 check to make good on the court order, Chitwood said.

Contact staff writer Mari A. Schaefer at 610-892-9149 or mschaefer@phillynews.com.