Police departments are using the Internet to sell inventories of stolen property, confiscated items, and worn-out equipment, USA Today reports. People are willing to buy almost anything: A guitar autographed by Gene Simmons of the rock group KISS brought more than $6,000.
Property Bureau, an Internet auction service for law enforcement based in San Clemente, Calif., says 300 police and fire agencies in 23 states are clients. A founder of its propertyroom.com Web site is Daryl Gates, ex-Los Angeles police chief. “We don’t handle firearms and drugs,” says Steve Lupinacci, propertyroom.com president. “But we get a lot of grow lights.” Grow lights are used to grow marijuana and other plants indoors.
Another popular Internet auction firm is GovDeals Inc., based in Montgomery, Ala. It auctions surplus and stolen goods for state and local governments on govdeals.com. Montgomery County, Ohio, netted $260,000 in one year on govdeals.com, more than three times the average $80,000 it raises in auctions, says Roy Sigrist, director of purchasing “Typically, a public auction brings out mom ‘n’ pops, flea-market operators and junk dealers,” he says. “By doing this, the world is your marketplace.”
Sgt. Dan Ford, who runs the property room for the Tulsa Police Department, hopes signing up with propertyroom.com “gets us out of the auction business. We don’t have enough manpower to do auctions. We’ve got stuff that’s been here years and years.”