As a cop in New York state, Harry Brockman sometimes wondered if police "property rooms" -- where contraband and other seized and stolen goods are stored -- could be more efficient. Today, he has an answer, and has gone into business with a fellow police officer to create the law enforcement equivalent to eBay.
The site is called PropertyRoom.com and it's different from other auction services in that each item comes directly from about 2,000 law enforcement agencies across the United States. Everything is vetted for authenticity, and if anything is non-functioning, potential bidders are told so in the item's on-line description.
"They had a need to get rid of stuff, and get rid of it on a consistent basis," said Brockman.
Standard police auctions are often costly and time-consuming to cash-strapped agencies, he explains, and there are usually fewer bidders.
"We have about 1.5 million registered users nationwide," says Brockman.
Most items are up for bids for five days minimum, and start at only $1.
Brockman says if there's one thing he's learned since the site opened about a decade ago, it's that people will buy (or steal) just about anything -- from a solid metal life-sized deer to a diamond-encrusted, white gold necklace to Rolex and Cartier watches.
On occasion, something will end up at PropertyRoom's (exact location undisclosed) City of Industry warehouse that a browser will actually recognize, says Brockman. Once, he heard from the U.S. agent for an all-girls Japanese punk rock band, who he says, had recognized the lead singer's guitar that was stolen.
The agent identified the guitar to Brockman's satisfaction and got it back for the punk singer soon after.