Bargain hunters who attend local police auctions may soon have to go online as police departments turn to Internet sites to empty their evidence rooms, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. At least three Wisconsin departments are weighing contracts with PropertyRoom.com, a California-based kind of eBay for cop shops that auctions everything from tools to electronics and diamond jewelrye. The draw, said Franklin Police Chief Richard Oliva, is a wider audience and greater profit at virtually no cost for the police. “eBay has proven that you can sell just about anything online,” said Oliva, whose department would be Wisconsin’s first to contract with PropertyRoom.com if his Common Council approves.
PropertyRoom.com is the brainchild of Thomas Lane, a former Long Island police detective who took his cue from eBay and other online sites while researching them in 1998 for the investment counseling firm he owns with his siblings. “Today we have over 500 contracts in 34 states,” said Lane, chairman of PropertyRoom.com, which counts former Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates among the firm’s advisers. Because it’s a private company, Lane won’t talk profits but says the number of online hits speaks volumes. “Instead of 25 or 100 people coming to a police auction, we have over 400,000 registered users and 2.5 million unique visitors every month,” he said.