BRIGHAM COLUMN: Go treasure hunting on police auction website
Looking for a bicycle, an inexpensive computer, a shiny engagement ring or even a vehicle for a ridiculously low price?
Propertyroom.com offers everything except the kitchen sink. Well, if the sink is stolen, you actually might just find one there.
The site was founded in 1999 by a former police detective in the Long Beach (N.Y.) Police Department.
Named after the room where cops safeguard seized, recovered, found and unclaimed personal property, Property Room services more than 2,700 police departments, county sheriffs, state police and other municipal agencies, including airports, fire and marine departments and municipal fleets nationwide. By law, these agencies must sell all recovered goods at public auctions. Property Room helps them out by hauling it all away and selling it for them.
Locally, they work with the Goose Creek Police Department.
“If you're a treasure hunter ... you just have no idea what's going to show up on our site,” says P.J. Bellomo, Property Room CEO.
Most auctions start with a $1 opening bid and close at the last, highest bid without a reserve price.
Partial proceeds go back into the communities from which the items originated. The company has given back more than $41 million this year.
“Our goal is to push past $50 million by Dec. 31. I think we'll hit that,” Bellomo says.
With a whopping 30,000 hits daily, the site sells hundreds of laptops, all types of electronics and unusual jewelry — every single day.
Lately there have been a lot of cars listed on the site, Bellomo says. “They seize vehicles from those who don't pay parking tickets or from misbehaving drug dealers.”
There also are abandoned vehicles and cars owned by the police department or that city officials drive.
“Over time, they get new ones, and that is a large, growing part of our business as well,” he says.
They use a partner who owns yards around the U.S. so customers have pickup locations closer to their homes.
But shoppers beware that Property Room isn't for those who seek convenience, know exactly what they want and want to purchase immediately.
“Our customers are the people who are making businesses by going to tax sales on the weekends or just hunting on (the Internet) — collectors. Those are the people that find our site most attractive,” he says.