Online Auctions for Police Property are Red Hot

Having been a member of the Ebay selling and buying community since 1998, with well over 1,000 completed and positive transactions, I’ve always been on the lookout for other online auction sites that offer great prices on items. Somehow, I stumbled upon a literal goldmine with the site www.stealitback.com!

For a couple of years now, the site has been “connecting law enforcement property rooms with the Internet”. The site acts as a clearinghouse for law enforcement agencies literally from coast to coast to sell off their seized, stolen or forfeited items; rather than having them sit in a property room or a warehouse, there is no cost to the police or sheriff’s departments themselves to put them up for bid and get some money back in their own pockets for goods which would otherwise still languish in those property rooms.

Benefits to participating police departments includes free coast to coast pickup, no software or capital outlay on their part, a secure and safe server, and the promise of a large base of visitors to the site, anxious to see what’s been added on a twice-daily basis. The main site for www.stealitback.com will actually take you to their national public auction site, www.propertyroom.com, where you and I are invited to register – for free – to bid on these auctions.With corporate offices in Mission Viejo, California, there are three processing centers for The Property Room: Seattle, Washington, Los Angeles, California, and Farmingdale, New York. (Individuals who bid on and win certain really, really large items – dining room sets, chairs, table, armoires, desks, riding mowers and more – are usually required to pick up their winning bid item at one of these three processing centers, as shipping will not be availble.

Property Room is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriffs’ Association and the International Association for Property and Evidence. Thomas Lane has served as the CEO and Chairman of Property Room since it was founded, and has an extensive background in management and finance. Other Board members include entrepreneurs, investment bankers, IT managers, international consultants, editors, and quite a number of former and retired law enforcement officers and administrators.

Registering at www.stealitback.com is both free and very easy. Like Ebay, you’ll be asked to create a user name and password. You will also be asked for personal information and a current credit card on file. (The site does not accept PayPal or other forms of payment EXCEPT for credit card purchases.) Their listing categories for current auctions include automotive, bicycles, books and magazines, cell phones, clothing and accessories, collectibles and memorabilia, computing, electronics, everything else (that famous ‘catch all’ category), health and beauty, home and garden, jewelry, liquidation items, music and movies, office and photography. Some of the categories may be sparse; for instance, in checking the daily health and beauty site, there were only ten items up for auction. The site is updated twice daily with new listings, so it pays to check back on a regular basis in a category in which you have an interest to see what’s new on the boards.

My own purchases on www.stealitback.com have ranged from several beautiful, brand new in bags with all original tags attached Burberry cashmere and lambswool scarves, which make for red-hot holiday gifts! The prices for a Burberry cashmere scarf is $225 retail, plus tax; on Ebay, these scarves sell for anywhere from $89.00 to $150 and up. The most expensive Burberry scarf I purchased was a gray cashmere for $67; others ranged in price from $47 and up, depending upon the color. (The site is currently carrying Burberry brand new scarves, both cashmere and lambswool, in every standard color: gray, brown, sand, pink, yellow, green, blue and more.)

I have also purchased draperies new in their original bag (although the exact size was unknown; I paid $1 plus shipping and handling at a nominal cost), brand new Express and Gap clothing which had their original tags on, a set of four brand new, dressy sandals for $3 plus shipping/handling, a brand new mens’ coat, and a humongous assortment of brand new womens’ hair accessories – barrettes, headbands, scarves, scrunchies, clips, and more – for a shipping size boxful of goodies, at a cost of $14 plus shipping and handling. There was enough stuff in there to stock my family for years, and I’m sure would be a fabulous find for a hair salon or school.

Let’s take a peek at some of the items currently listed on the site to give you an idea of what you might find. Remember, these items by and large come from police department property, evidence and forfeiture rooms, but there are also a few (maybe four or five) other vendors who sell through the web site as well. Most of these are jewelry houses or online sites, who advertise everything from the unusual to the just downright charming at incredibly low prices. Most jewelry items are new and sometimes come with a box or a ‘gift’ such as a little jewelry holder as a bonus. To date, I’ve purchased 10K, 14K and 18K gold jewelry from the site at some pretty incredible savings. What else can you find on www.stealitback.com besides indulging your taste for those pretty baubles?

Here we go: a weedwhacker (current bid $1!), a set of Craftsman tools, a set of combination wrenches, folding scooters, a baseball batting helmet, those incredible Burberry scarves, a Polo Lacose shirt brand new, with all tags still attached, a hand truck, drill press, a Thomas Kinkade framed print, brass candle stands, a lawnmower, a breadmaker, valance curtains, a Tiffany & Co. prism cut candleholder, a Black and Decker vacuum, an ultrasonic humidifier, mens’ Timberland boots, several Hamilton Collection porcelain dolls, a Cabbage Patch Kid new in its box, furniture slipcovers, an oxygen tank, sets of dental tools, a cordless drill, directors’ chairs, a sewing machine, glue gun, a mini reclining rocker, pocket knives, an air compressor, glass vases, complete sets of dishes, a chainsaw, a wet-dry vacuum, leather work gloves, coolers, outdoor wall lamps, a Buddha statue, nautical desk lamp set, circular saw, deep fryer, coffee makers, hand towels, sheets, a small animal cage, four dining room chairs, a lawn seed spreader, a wooden entertainment center, a Kohler toilet and tank, a Lasco Bathware shower stall, bar glasses, dozens of sets of new mens’, womens’ and childrens sport socks with starting bids of $1 per lot, brand new boxed and wraps DVD sets of “The Sopranos”, and so much more!

Like any online auction site, there are certain rules you must follow and certain things you must check before confirming your bid. Many of the items listed are not brand new. If you find an item that you like, read the entire listing over very carefully. The item’s condition will be spelled out in very specific terms: “new”, “good”, “working”, “parts only”, “tested and working at time of listing”, “fair”, “size unknown”, “brand unknown”. It is truly a buyer’s beware mentality, but if you’re up for the hunt, it’s worth it. After reviewing the item completely, if you’re interested, go to “Bid History” and place your bid. Like Ebay, you may enter a maximum amount, which may or may not be incrementally bid up as the auction continues. Unlike Ebay, you are not able to retract your bid once placed! When you place your initial bid, you will be given (usually) a choice of shipping options. These options include the U.S. Postal Service or Federal Express ground, two-day delivery, or overnight. Shipping costs can be a killer! While it may seem that buying a king sized “Bed in a Bag” that’s brand new for only $12, if the shipping cost on this (oversized) item is $30 or higher, it isn’t really that much of a bargain. Jewelry shipping prices are usually by way of Federal Express and quite reasonable. (From personal experience, I have found that the shipping time for items is generally really fast.)

Now that you’ve looked over the item’s auction description very carefully and have selected a reasonably priced shipping method, you’ve gone to “Bid History” to place your bid. You’ll be asked to submit your bid – give either a one-time bid which is your maximum or your maximum bid itself. Again like Ebay, if someone else starts to bid on the item, your bid amount will be incrementally increased (usually in increments of $2 or slightly higher; the bidding increment information is also clearly spelled out on your item’s description page). You can go back and increase your maximum bid if things start to get hot and heavy bidding wise, but remember, once placed, it can never be retracted. If yours is the winning bid, you are committed to complete the purchase. During this process, the web site will send you confirmation emails: of the placement of your bid, of any increases to your maximum bid amount, if you’ve been outbid, when you’re the winning bidder, and when your item has been shipped. In your personal account information page will be listed every bid you’ve placed, every item you’ve won, every item you’ve not won; there is also a feature to “archive” your items. What the site means by “archive” is to delete it completely. I had a question about one of the items I had purchased, but had “archived” it, not realizing that I was, in fact, deleting it completely. The Customer Service folks at this site are extremely helpful, prompt and polite, but even they can’t retrieve those “archived” items.

I’d suggest you get started by scrolling through the www.stealitback.com web site before you even register. If it’s to your liking, then register! The temptation to get some really fabulous buys will be hard to resist! Of course, there’s always the comic relief of wondering just how the police department came into possession of a lot of size 44D bras, a bunch of womens’ velour jogging suits, who might have first worn that Versace mens’ suit you’re thinking of bidding on, and of course, what exactly is the story on that darned chain saw!!

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