Police Property Auction Site Goes Online
- By Martin Stone
- Feb 27, 2001
Property Bureau Inc., a company founded and managed by former police officers, said today it has launched an online auction site selling seized, recovered and unclaimed property.
The site, called PropertyRoom.com, is the only one offering a single location for local law enforcement agencies to sell such properties, the company said. Items up for bid will include jewelry, stereos, electronic equipment and television sets, computers, collectibles and cameras, among other things.
Tom Lane, the company's co-founder and chief executive officer, said the new service "will give consumers a chance to buy high quality goods at great prices, provide a much-needed service for police departments and deliver increased revenue to local municipalities."
Property Bureau is located in San Clemente, Calif.
The company described one feature of the site, called the StealItBack section, where visitors can register goods that have been stolen from them. Once registered, if these items are received by the company, they will be returned to the owner free of charge.
The company also said that, according to the Federal Trade Commission, auction fraud is the No. 1 source of Internet-related consumer complaints.
"Our approach takes away most of the opportunities for fraud that plague traditional consumer-to-consumer online auctions," said Lane. "All of the merchandise offered for auction has been inspected and documented. Instead of dealing with an anonymous seller, consumers will know that our company stands behind everything on the site and will deliver the merchandise as promised."
Another aspect of fraud, called shill bidding, is essentially eliminated, the company added. Shill bidding takes place when an individual seller bids on his own merchandise in an effort to increase the sale price of the product. This is less likely to happen when the seller is a company, rather than an individual. PropertyRoom.com employees are forbidden to bid on any item on the site.
Property Bureau said it estimates that at fair market prices, the value of goods recovered and seized by all U.S. police agencies exceeds $10 billion annually. The constant influx of items into property rooms has forced law enforcement agencies to focus on getting rid of property as quickly as possible without consideration for value or revenue potential.
While there are regular police auctions around the country conducted by third-party auction houses, financial returns to police departments and municipalities are minimal.
The Web site is at www.propertybureau.com.