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Buy cheap stolen goods

Grab bargain bikes & bling

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Sarah M and Jenny | Edited by Steve N

Updated 18 Apr 2017

Police Auctions

Pssst! Wanna buy cheap stolen goods? From bikes to a bit of bling, it's possible to grab goods at a fraction of the normal cost. Not many people know about this trick, so you could nab some real bargains.

We've now updated this guide with even more ways to get your hands on stolen goods. And it's all completely legit and above board – in fact, even the police are in on it...

How to buy cheap stolen goods (and it's absolutely legal)

Don't worry, we know MoneySavers are law-abiding citizens, and we're not about to encourage you to break the law. This is all about snapping up lost property or goods seized from criminals when the police can't find the rightful owners.

Many police forces across the UK sell on loot which they've seized. And because this isn't widely known about – and because the police sell on items they'd otherwise have to store or dispose of – you could bag real bargains. For example, we spotted a kids' bike for 99p (collection only), a classical guitar for £14 (incl delivery) and an Armani watch for £15 (collection only).

There are three main routes the police use to flog this stuff – it's worth checking out all three, but the route for you may depend on what's available near you, as many items have to be collected.

  • Bumblebee Auctions – an eBay-style site which features stolen goods listed by police forces across England and Wales. You usually have to collect items in person.
  • Official police eBay stores – some forces have now set up their own eBay shops. You can collect items in person or sometimes have them delivered.
  • Auction houses – some police forces also sell goods via auction houses, which you have to attend in person.
Bumblebee Auctions

Police auction Q&As

  • How big is this?

  • Is it always a bargain?

  • What if I spot something that belongs to me?

  • Where do the proceeds go?

  • I've got the bidding bug. Any other auctions worth checking out?

Bumblebee Auctions

Official eBay stores

Many police forces in England and Wales use an eBay-style site called Bumblebee Auctions to sell lost property or goods seized from criminals.

Unsurprisingly, the most common categories are things most likely to be nicked – when we last checked, we found bicycles, cameras, jewellery, tools and games consoles.

Crucially, you'll often need to collect whatever you buy, so it's important to factor in which force is selling an item before you bid. You can occasionally pay for delivery though.

How to get started

To sign up, you must first set up an account for the online payment system Nochex, which can take up to three days. When you register a card, Nochex takes a random £3-or-less non-refundable admin charge from the card to check it's yours.

This is in effect a joining fee, so make sure you know there is something you want to buy and it is worthwhile before you sign up. After that, you can register to bid on Bumblebee – you need to use the same email address for both.

Quick questions

Does bidding work just like on eBay?

Do I have to collect items?

What if there's a problem?

Have you bought cheap stolen goods from police? Let us know how you got on – plus any police eBay stores or auction houses you've spotted which do this – in the forum.

Official police eBay stores

Official eBay stores

Some police forces have set up their own official eBay shops to sell recovered goods. What's more, smaller items often have a delivery option, so you can still buy from them even if the force is miles from you.

To find an official store, start by checking the website of your police force to see if it sells stolen goods on eBay. If not, look further afield, though make sure what you're buying has a delivery option or you're able to collect it.

We found a number of police forces linking to official eBay shops, including Cheshire Police*, Nottinghamshire Police*, Leicestershire Police*, Sussex Police*, Thames Valley Police* and Devon and Cornwall Police*.

When we looked, most smaller items (eg, cameras and jewellery) had a delivery option. Larger items such as bikes and televisions were collection-only – often from the police force's headquarters.

Quick questions

Are all items sold via auction?

What's the best way to get a good deal?

Auction houses

Local auction houses

A number of forces use auction houses (which you can visit in person) to sell goods.

You may have to do a bit of detective work to find an auction near you – some police forces give this information on their websites, but not all do. However, if you search online for police auctions in your area (eg, 'police auction Manchester'), you should be able to find if there's an auction house that sells goods on behalf of police.

For example, Greater Manchester Police lists three auction houses on its website: Central Auction Rooms of Rochdale, Charles Taylor Auctioneers & Valuers and Simon Charles Auctioneers & Valuers. It says auctions are held when there are enough items to sell.

Northumbria Police says it uses Boldon Auction Galleries, while West Midlands Police uses Aston's Auctioneers & Valuers. In London, we found Frank G Bowen Ltd, an auction house which deals with police, bankruptcy and liquidation sales.

Most items sold are similar to those on Bumblebee and eBay, but you're also more likely to find larger items such as cars at auction houses.

Quick questions

How do I bid at an auction?

Are there extra fees?

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