Lost and Found Sales

Reporter: Josh Fajzullin

"People just come in and get a bargain." says Rob Evans. "It's a veritable trash n treasure for all those who need to look for anything and everything." says a customer. "This is Aladdin's cave.. even Ali Baba would be impressed! We've got everything camera lenses, cameras, blackberry phones."

Lost and never found. Stolen and seized. 42 inch plasma screen it's a steal, in fact it was. It's the billion dollar stockpile of unclaimed, unowned goods that you can pocket for a pittance. 40 to 80% off the retail price. The only catch is, they come with a bit of history. "The police have got to send these items to public auction so we're just a vehicle for that." explains Rob Evans, the founder of www.allbids.com.au. It's an online auction house which for some of his business, sells goods on behalf of the Australian Federal Police, items seized in raids, impounded or proceeds of crime.

"You see the odd crow bar come through as well and it's obviously been used in crime, it's probably a cheap way for people to pick up cheap tools isn't it!" $13 mobile phones, $20 cameras, crate loads and instead of wasting it, auction houses like this one in Canberra sell it at bargain basement prices. Some items near new, some still in the box. "Apart from the billiard table we've sold almost everything from army tanks down to jewellery and everything in between. You just never know what you're gonna get." says Rob.

The same goes at Ross' auction house in Perth. There are enough seized items to clear out, they hold a police auction every 6 weeks. "We get everything from brand new motorcycles, high end sports cars, Hi Fi equipment, Playstations, anything you can think of that can be stolen recovered, forfeited, seized." tells Matt from Ross.

This brand new club sport Commodore could sell for considerably less, seized from a criminal. This Honda motorbike will go under the hammer with just 3 kilometres on the clock, apparently the owner was arrested as he drove out of the dealership. "When you've got high end items worth $50-60,000 some people walk away with $20-30,000" says Matt. And it's not only stolen property that people are wanting to get their hands on. Another market is lost property. Ever wondered where your jacket or watch ends up if you lost it on a train or bus, and forgot to claim it? Charity's one place. The other, a lost property auction.

"Sometimes companies do lost property auctions, like Australia Post, some of the airlines some of the train lines." says Michelle House from www.secretbudget.net "A really good buy from a lost property auction would be picking up a phone for $10 that might be in the shop for $750." She says while you can save, beware, you're also taking a risk. Many goods don't come with a warranty. Delivery cost is another consideration. "You need to add up all of those and make sure you're still getting that bargain."

Around the country, some transport companies hold their own lost property auctions advertised in the local paper. But not everyone's alike. Forget to claim your lost property on a Qantas flight, and it doesn't go to charity after some time; staff get a chance to bid for it. Lost property in taxis, if unclaimed after 24 hours, can be scooped up by the driver if the owner isn't tracked down. Then there are auctions for repossessed items.

"A repossessed item is where somebody has had a judgement enforced and the item has been repossessed and can go up for sale to the public." explains Michelle House. Bailiff Sheriff Australia is an online directory for these auctions held in every state. Camper vans, furniture, even whole apartments, which could go for a third of the price. "You can jump on and be a subscriber and find out when auctions are. You could also do that through the other websites like the public trustee in your state and jump on there be a subscriber." A bargain hunter's paradise, for those willing to not let guilt get in the way.

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