Stolen Pleasures: The Property Room
I watched a bit of Nightline last week, and there was a feature on an outfit called the Property Room, which sells - eBay-style - goods that had been sitting around police department property rooms gathering dust.
A lot of it is stuff that was stolen and recovered, but never claimed - which I really don't get, although maybe it's recovered so many years later, after the insurance has paid out. Much of it was impounded from drug dealers. Property Room, which was founded by an ex-cop, saves local police departments the hassle of holding their own auctions, and - as the marketers say - "frees them up to focus on their core mission", which is catching bad guys - like the ones who stole the colonoscopy machine that the Property Room once had for sale.
[On a marketing note: I want to commend these folks on their clear and succinct value proposition:
Before PropertyRoom.com, law enforcement agencies were responsible for tracking and storing auction inventory as well as coordinating, promoting and conducting live auctions. PropertyRoom.com acts as a service business for agencies by taking over the process, freeing-up space in crowded law enforcement property rooms. As importantly, we eliminate the time and effort wasted in the old-fashioned auction process while vastly increasing revenues, reducing costs and increasing public access to these public goods.]
And lest you think that only small-town PD's that don't have auctioneers on their squads are into this, the Property Room has some Fortune 50-type names on their client list: NYPD and LAPD.
Not being an habitué of eBay, which I'm quite sure offers a far more varied and replete garden of earthly delights, I have to say I had some fun roaming around in the Property Room. It's completely fascinating.
Just speculating on where some of this stuff comes from is fun.
700 decks of Bicycle Playing Cards?
Diamond encrusted Breitling watch that no one claimed?
And who is Todd Goldman whose art work seems to be a thief magnet?
What an odd-ball collection of stuff.
If you're looking for a 1986 police department bus from Toms River, NJ, I know where you can get one cheap. When you're driving it, you may want to sport a Commission of Law Enforcement class ring.
And, Carol Brinkman, if you're wondering what your beat up, black and orange Dynastar skis are up to, they're going for a buck (plus shipping and handling).
If I'm willing to spring for an untested Blackberry, or a stripped down - no OS/no apps - laptop, there's plenty there for the bidding.
I liked the look of the Swiss Army Knife rolling suitcase, but on closer review, I learned that it was missing a wheel and had stains on it. What kind, it didn't say, but the mind wanders to questions about whether it was large enough to store a body in...
There's a bit of apparel. Most have tags still on (fortunately: who'd buy a worn bra?), but there is a like new mink jacket appraised at $3K that's only been bid up to $206.
I didn't see anything that looked too familiar to me but, then again, I have been very fortunate when it comes to being the victim of theft.
Many years ago, while I was out, my apartment was broken into and the thief took off with a few pieces of costume jewelry. The amethyst brooch and earrings were actually worth a few bucks - they were from the 1940's and were "nice". But the value was mostly sentimental, as my father had given the set to my mother. Other than that, the thief was moving pretty fast, or I don't imagine he'd have bothered with my old Girl Scout pin. (It was glittery.)
The thief - dubbed by the cops as "The Flying Puerto Rican" for his trapeze artist ability to leap from roofs and fire escapes - was apprehended when he fell through the sky light, and into the bathtub, of my 80+ year old neighbor. And that's how I met General Georges Doriot, the founder of venture capitalism, who lived in a very nice single-family home down the street from my meager little single-girl studio apartment. The General called the cops and apparently got into a bit of a tussle with the thief trying to restrain him as he attempted to flee.
The General was bloody, but unbowed. When "The Flying Puerto Rican" (whose name I am withholding, in hopes that in the nearly 30 years since this crime, he's made good) was a no show for his court date, which is where I met the General.
Once we realized there'd be no trial, the General was handed a paper sack from the Boston PD property room that contained his blood-stained PJ's.
I was handed a smaller sack containing my precious jewels, minus the stone from one of the amethyst earrings.
It also contained a real gold chain, complete with a couple a hairs and a bit of bloodied flesh, that had been yanked off the neck of the thief. The police officer encouraged me to take the necklace as compensation for my trouble, but I was not interested in it at all.
Just the sort of thing, I imagine, that could end for sale in the Property Room.