Police auctions are a prolific source of goods that have been lost or more commonly stolen and have not been subsequently reclaimed.
Most goods sold by the police are auctioned in local high street salerooms and promoted in the local press approximately seven to ten days before the sale. Some amazing bargains are possible with many lots fetching around ten per cent of their possible resale value. Goods are usually auctioned without reserve and sold to the highest bidder.
The fact they are poorly advertised explains why few people know about police auctions and why some lots sell at a pittance and generate high profit margins on eBay.
However, you won’t find rare antiques and high class jewellery selling at most police auctions or stored in a dirty garage waiting to be reclaimed. Expensive items are usually stored in bank vaults or in high security lock ups and displayed on police websites until their owners are found. Valuable items are never sold off cheap!
Because many goods have been confiscated from criminals, you won’t be surprised to see police auction lots matching items commonly targeted by thieves, such as computers and jewellery, garden furniture and spare parts from cars. Lost items are typically the kind of things people leave on buses and trains, or in parks and nightclubs, for example, and include the likes of umbrellas and purses (without money inside them), costume jewellery and toys.
So you’re likely to find mainly low value items selling at police auctions, with market value ranging from a fiver or so to a few hundred pounds.
Low value they might be, but for many resellers police auctions represent the bulk of their sales, including on eBay.
Now you know how they work, let us talk about turning police auctions into a profitable source of goods for your eBay business.
These tips will help:
1. Learn about police auctions in your area. You’ll find them by contacting high street auctioneers listed in local telephone directories and asking if they organise sales on behalf of the police. Write down phone numbers for auctioneers performing police auctions and telephone every few weeks for information about scheduled sales and others held at short notice.
2. Ask to be placed on police auctioneers’ mailing lists for information about forthcoming sales. Give saleroom staff your telephone number, as well as your email and street address. This is because some auctioneers send details by email or telephone and others send their catalogues by post.
3. Make a note in your diary about auction dates and where sales will be held. Telephone auctioneers a few days before the sale to check for changes to date or location, and to make sure items you want to buy have not been removed from the sale.
4. Do not bid on items you have not inspected beforehand. Many times faults and blemishes are hidden behind other auction lots, or camouflaged with lot number stickers, and you could end up buying something that looks good in the catalogue but is badly damaged and unsuitable for reselling later.
5. Find out when viewing day is and arrive in good time to inspect lots from all angles. The best time to view is the day before the sale or an hour before the auction begins, preferably both. Last minute viewing will reveal damage caused to goods part way through the viewing period, as well as highlighting lots withdrawn from the sale but still showing up in the catalogue.
6. Study the auctioneer’s terms and conditions; you’ll find them in the catalogue and displayed on a wall in the saleroom. Many salerooms require intending bidders to register before the sale and some charge a small registration fee to deter time-wasters. The fee is usually refundable against winning bids.
7. Check what the rules say about paying, namely when payment is due and by what method. Take plenty of cash because many salerooms lack merchant facilities, and some salerooms refuse to hand over goods until cheques have cleared.
Big problem: waiting seven to ten days for cheque to clear gives plenty of time for your goods to be damaged in storage, and auction companies are not obliged to compensate you for breakages or loss.
See if any constabularies in your area promote their own sales by keying something like ‘police auction Durham’ into the search box at google.com
Note: Do not pay to join sites offering information about police auctions until you have tried locating that information by yourself. Many of those sites offer a very reliable service, at low cost, but some services are over-priced and sometimes out-of-date. Try searching for yourself and making notes about websites listing police auction dates free of charge. Do a search for ‘police auctions free information’ and you’ll find all the information you’ll ever need to make police auctions you main product buying source. A similar search today took me to free information and links to sites detailing police auctions.