Website Sells Stolen Goods for a Song

By Gillian Mohney

Nov 29, 2011 2:09pm

 

If you missed Cyber Monday, there’s another way to find great deals online. A website called Propertyroom.com is getting attention for selling stolen goods online, legally.

Founded by former police officer Thomas Lane, Property Room’s merchandise is stocked with items seized by more than 2,500 police departments nationwide.  Property Room allows police departments to bypass setting up public auctions by turning to the web and using the service to sell everything from a canoe seized in Michigan to a football signed by Joe Namath. The company then shares a percentage of the profits with the local municipality.

While listings for items such as ipods, bicycles and diamond jewelry are not very surprising, Property Room CEO P.J. Bellomo says he’s also seen a few more unusual objects come in to the warehouse.

“We just auctioned off a coffin for Halloween,” said Bellomo. “You think to yourself, ‘who steals a coffin?’ And then you think to yourself, ‘who buys a coffin?’”

The latter half of Bellomo’s question was answered when a local theater troupe picked up the coffin to use as a prop.

While normally police departments do not disclose where items come from, occasionally they use the site to make a point to other criminals. Bellomo says one department used a 25th anniversary Corvette to make an example of a local drug dealer. “[They] paraded it around town,” said Bellomo. “[They said] ‘We’re going to take your toys from drug dealing.’”

Bellomo says that while most people are just looking for a good deal, the site occasionally reunites people with their missing property. One man’s handmade accordion, which he had owned for decades, was returned to him after being stolen a year prior.

When the company called him to tell him the good news, they offered to send it.

“[He said] I’ll pick it up, after everything that’s happened I don’t want it to get lost in shipment,” Bellomo recounted.

While Bellomo acknowledges that idea of selling stolen goods is a bit “weird,” he says they provide an important service for the public and local law enforcement.

“It’s a sensitive thing we’re in,” said Bellomo. “We’re turning lemons into lemonade.”

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