The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

February 3, 2014

Firm to sell city’s old evidence items, equipment

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

HERMITAGE — Hermitage police are looking to lessen the load in the evidence room and a dedicated storage area at the city garage.

City commissioners recently approved the police signing a contract with PropertyRoom.com, a Frederick, Md., company that was created to auction off police-related items, although it has since expanded its business to serve other sectors.

“We need to rid our evidence room of some unclaimed property that we haven’t been able to determine who the owner is,” Chief Brian Blair said. “We’re getting overwhelmed.”

“We can also get rid of our old equipment, which interests me more,” he said. “This would include old mobile and portable radios and obsolete vehicle equipment to include light bars and cages.”

PropertyRoom.com workers would come to the police department and city garage, inventory items, haul away unwanted items and refurbish and sell some of them at an online auction, he said.

There is no cost to the city for PropertyRoom.com’s services, City Manager Gary P. Hinkson said.

The city will get some of the proceeds of any items sold – half of the sale price for items that sell for up to $1,000 and 75 percent of items that sell for greater – and that money would go into the city’s general fund.

“I don’t expect to recoup large sums of money for the city,” Blair said. “We mainly just want to clear some space here and at the city garage. I don’t think we’re talking about hundreds of items, either.”

The chief said he did not believe the department had any items of “high-end value.”

“I know there are old cordless drills and other tools, items that have been recovered as stolen property or abandoned,” Blair said. “There’s antiquated stereo equipment, etc., that have been recovered from thefts and burglaries. These items will most likely get discarded.”

In some cases, items were subject to insurance payouts and the insurance companies did not want the merchandise back, Blair said.

Items such as jewelry and cash must be turned over to the state Bureau of Unclaimed Property, Hinkson said

Certain evidence would be off-limits, Blair said, noting that anything to do with a murder investigation is kept forever.

Firearms would not be sold.

“Firearms would get melted down via our own initiation,” he said. “The ones we have are pretty much junk and have been used in crimes, suicides, etc.”

Items of evidence used in court cases probably will need a court order for disposal and it will be up to police to determine what items would be subject to this requirement, Hinkson said.

Hinkson said he favored having PropertyRoom.com handle the documentation because police won’t have to spend time doing it. The items put up for sale will have wider exposure than if the city tried to sell them, and PropertyRoom.com’s process is “completely transparent, he said.

“I think getting a third party involved to document this stuff is in our best interest,” Hinkson said.