Property Room: Where Cops Sell Stolen Goods


Property Room is an online police auction site that sells “hot” or stolen goods. It turns out that replacing the classic police auction is good business. The Seattle Times has more: (is) a California-based Web site that receives items from the property rooms of 1,600 law-enforcement agencies in the U.S. — 124 in Washington state — and sells them online. Proceeds are split between the police departments and the Web site. is set up as a kind of eBay for police auctions. Items are sold in categories including jewelry, fine art, tools, bicycles, watches and “everything else.” The site was founded by former police officers, including Daryl Gates, former chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, according to its Web site.

Since many of the items were stolen but never reclaimed, will return them to their owners provided they can prove ownership of an item shown online.

When the site started in 2001, it had contracts with 100 departments and profits of $3 million. Now, the company has contracts with nearly 2,000 departments, 25,000 new bidders each month, and last year reported a profit of $35 million, according to company spokeswoman Cher Murphy.

Proceeds go to police pension funds.

The goods aren’t all from police departments. The website claims 1,500 participating police departments and a “trusted merchant program“:’s Trusted Merchant program features high quality merchants that auction goods in accordance with our strict guidelines and standards. Quality and security of transactions for buyers and sellers is guaranteed via managing the payment process, carefully screening sellers and aggressively combating fraud.

The items on the site are expensive compared to eBay. Many of them are stolen, without evidence that police tried to find the original owners. And what, exactly, makes their “trusted merchants” trustworthy?

Two comments on the Seattle Times article caught my eye:

1) kil4stn

Total scam!!!! Here’s the proof:

I just saw a Squier P-bass for bid on the site they claim will be a shipping weight of 58 lbs.

OK – a Squier P-bass is about 8 lbs, 10 oz. If you buy a middle of the road hard shell case to protect / ship the bass in (in this case, a Peavey), the specifications are as follows:

Dimensions: 49.5″ W x 5.625″ H x 16.75″ D
Weight: 12.5 lbs.

Rounding up both weights, you arrive at 22 lbs total. Now we all know this cheap, seized bass, in who knows what condition, isn’t coming with ANY case, but let’s continue under this delusion for a moment.

All express shipping companies check larger packages’ dimensions, and use a formula to come up with something called “dimensional weight”, which affects how much your shipping charges will be. The customer pays the corresponding rate for whichever is greater – the “dim wt” or the actual weight.

The dim wt for this 22 lb package is 24.040 lbs. So regardless of the weight of the case (or even the existence of one), dimension wise this is a good estimate at what the rate SHOULD be, worst case scenario.

However, on this site, you will be charged shipping for 58 POUNDS!!!! That’s significantly MORE THAN DOUBLE WHAT YOU SHOULD BE CHARGED!

Shame on you, SPD, King County Sheriff’s Office, and any other law enforcement agencies involved with this scam!

2) snowdawg is a scam site. You can see that if you just watch it for a week. Though they might have some police departments participating, it seems the bulk of their business is selling counterfeits and items that they buy and resell. But the “police department advertising” gives it credibility, visibility and traffic that it should not have.

I’d like to know what police are doing to try to find the original owners of the stolen goods.

Written by Drea Knufken

Currently, I create and execute content- and PR strategies for clients, including thought leadership and messaging. I also ghostwrite and produce press releases, white papers, case studies and other collateral.