Saving – or Making – Money with Police Auctions

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

As a frugal shopper, you’re adept at finding bargains in typical retail situations. There’s a level beyond frugal, however, where shoppers root out extraordinary bargains on valuable merchandise that far exceeds the average “good deal” pricing that most folks are thankful to find. This extreme bargain-hunting is a passion for these shoppers, who either:

  • love the thrill of hunting down incredible steals on valuable items; or
  • generate considerable income by re-selling these valuable items they find at dirt-cheap prices on eBay, Craigslist…

Regardless of the reason behind their purchases, these individuals can pick up a fortune in merchandise for pennies on the dollar by knowing the value of what they find and buying wisely at second-hand and consignment shops, garage and yard sales and estates sales. Another, less obvious place to find such valuable merchandise for sale dirt cheap is at a police auction. Police departments sell off merchandise on a regular basis in order to generate revenue.

From where does the merchandise sold at police auctions come?

Property connected to crimes – Any property used in the commission of a crime or purchased with stolen money is subject to seizure and sale by law enforcement agencies.

Items confiscated as evidence – Property taken into evidence is held until the case is closed. If the owners of that property fail to retrieve it within a specified amount of time, the police can sell it.

Surplus equipment – Items used by police departments that are no longer needed can be sold.

Unclaimed property – Any lost property turned into the police that is not claimed by its owners within a specified time frame can be sold at auction.

Where can you find police auctions?

Contact local police agencies or consult the Internet on sites like to find auctions near you. There are online police auctions as well, at sites like

What kinds of merchandise can you find at police auctions?

There’s no shortage of variety in the items you’ll discover up for auction:

  • luxury items (vehicles, boats, jewelry, furs, china, crystal, fine furnishings…)
  • collectibles (coins, art, statuary, books, dolls…)
  • ordinary items (electronics, appliances, bicycles, sports equipment, cameras…)
  • unexpected items (stained glass windows, pottery, ceramics, taxidermy…)

How are police auctions conducted?

In the interest of liquidating this inventory as efficiently as possible so they can receive and allocate the proceeds, most police auctions are well organized. Items are carefully identified by professionals so they can be accurately represented to bidders. Some departments even hire professional auctioneers to manage the process. If you attend an in-person auction, you’ll have the opportunity to inspect the items prior to bidding. Online bidding sites generally have detailed descriptions of their merchandise as well. Remember, however, items are sold “as is” so will not come with any guarantee of their condition.

Can you find legitimate deals?

Certainly. It’s not uncommon to pay only 25% of the retail value of items at police auctions. That provides you with an extraordinary savings and/or opportunity to make a profit on items you win.

Winning bid strategies

  • Research items on which you’re interested in bidding before the auction.
  • Determine the maximum bid you’ll be comfortable paying and stick to it.
  • Avoid getting caught up in the excitement – remember, the point is ultimately to save, not spend.

Final thought

It’s great to have nice things but don’t become a slave to material possessions – even if they’re of value. Buy only what you plan to use or sell. Remember, money is a resource that must be allocated widely and with discretion.

Have you ever purchased merchandise from a police auction? How much did you save?

Bonus Tip:

Did you know that you can save money with Netflix? Even if you don't plan on using the service, you should at least sign up for the Netflix free trial here to get some free movies for a month.

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