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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 27 Feb 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 perfectly 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 are selling on items they'd otherwise have to store or dispose of - it can be possible to 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 where you live, as many items have to be collected from the police stations flogging them.

  • 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 either collect items in person or in some cases have them delivered.
  • Local auction houses - some police forces also sell goods via local 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 auction bug. Any others 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 which have been seized from criminals.

Unsurprisingly, the most common categories are things that are 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 in person, 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 the items in person?

What happens if there's a problem?

Have you bought cheap stolen goods from the police? Let us know how you got on - plus any police eBay stores or local 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 based miles from you.

To find an official store, start by checking the website of your local police force to see if they sell 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 & 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?

Local auction houses

Local auction houses

A number of forces use local 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 the police.

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

Northumbria Police says it uses Bolden 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 auction 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 local auction houses.

Quick questions:

How do I bid at a local auction?

Are there any extra fees?

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