Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

The legal way to buy stolen goods

July 24, 2009

GERMANY/Don’t let the headline fool you.  It is still illegal to buy stolen goods … unless you’re buying them from the police.

In the same way that eBay is the world’s virtual garage sale, a website called Property Room is trying to become the world’s virtual police auction.

Founded in 1999, the website has partnered with 1,600 law enforcement agencies around the country to sell unwanted or unclaimed recovered property.

Although the latest statistics from the U. S. Federal Bureau of Investigation show crime decreasing across the country, property crimes here, in Chicago, apparently rose 4 percent between 2007 and 2008–the latest numbers available.  From a wider view, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics found that property crimes account for about 75 percent of all personal and property crimes committed in 2006.

While much of that merchandise finds its way back to the owner, a lot of it never does.

On Property Room, users can bid on items ranging from electronics and power tools to jewelry and designer clothes. There are even cars up for bid, although don’t hold out hope to get a shot at the Big Bopper’s car.

Bids can start as low as $1, and proceeds are said to be split between the website and participating police department.

(Reuters Photo)

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