Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Bumblebee in the National Press

A very favourable review of Bumblebee Auctions enititled "Move over eBay - this is the police" was published in the Guardian Money section on Saturday January 28, 2006

This website disposes of property that the police have seized or has been handed in, and where the police can't locate the original owner. Stuff on sale reflects criminal tastes; lots of mountain bikes (many "as new"), Nike trainers (new, boxed), jewellery and electrical goods such as laptops and iPods.

It's run on the lines of eBay, where you bid up to a closing date. There are no minimums, so if no one else bids, the item is yours for £1.

PC Tim Wills, who handles disposals on bumblebeeauctions for Sussex Police, says it is not uncommon for bikes to go for under £5. Guardian Money tracked some of the bike auctions last week, and found many sold for £20-£30. The most sought after was a new Giant Yukon bike, which eventually went for £105. That compares with the £299 it retails for elsewhere.

Other lots listed this week included HP Laserjet printers (several at £20), mobile phones (a Siemens S55 for £1, including charger and manual), Nike Airmax Plus trainers (£5-£10, courtesy of a particularly prolific shoplifter) and assorted packs of batteries, razors and Oral-B toothbrushes from £1 upwards.

The drawback? You have to collect larger items from the police force that's offloading them. In the case of the Yukon bike above, that would have required a trip to Chichester police station in Sussex. Only 10 of the UK's 43 police forces are on the site, so large parts of the country are not covered. Smaller items listed on bumblebeeauctions (such as trainers) can be posted to you, but at a fee of around £14. You also have to sign up to the Nochex payment system.

PC Wills says: "It used to be the case that we disposed of everything through local auction houses. But we've found that we can make 10 times as much by doing it online. All the money made goes to charity. It's just beginning to build up momentum at the moment. The Metropolitan Police [not currently disposing on the site] is in the wings as are many other forces. In truth, we've got property stores which are full to overflowing."