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Jun 30, 2005

Bidding lively at police auction

Story PictureA large crowd gathered at the Queen Street police station this morning, but they weren’t there to wait for loved ones picked up in a base round-up. They came to get a good deal on goods confiscated during criminal investigations, but were never claimed. While most of it ran like a standard auction, there were moments when the exercise seemed more like a game of “fishpond”, where you pay your money, throw your hook, and hope you get something good.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
On the police auction block this morning was an eclectic collection of goods…ranging from a bunch of umbrellas…

Bidder #1
?Seven dollars, seven this side Miss.?

…to radios, VCRs, busted televisions, and mysterious boxes and bags…

Bidder #2
?Puss inna bag, puss inna bag.?

…the contents of which officers running the show refused to show to the crowd.

(Bidding)
?Forty.?

?Forty.?

?Fifty. Going once…?

?Fifty one.?

?Fifty two.

Fifty four.?

After several minutes of intense bidding, the cardboard box would go for…

Errol Thurton, Bargain Hunter
?Fifty six, fifty six.?

And yes, that?s fifty-six DOLLARS. Bargain hunter Errol Thurton says a sneak peek prior to bidding had revealed the cell phones inside the carton, but maintains this is a betting game.

Errol Thurton, Bargain Hunter
?You can?t worry ?bout that you might gain or you might lose, there?s always a possibility. The best place for you get wah bargain da wah auction.?

Robert Mariano Sr., Bargain Hunter
?It?s a gamble because you can pay up to a hundred dollars for something and end up getting a dollar for it. Cause what really happen is that the auction seller is there to receive the money, that?s all, he don?t care about nothing, he guarantees nothing. Whatsoever money you pay, remember that that?s a gamble.?

But the one item for which young, old, and everyone in between had come for were the bicycles.

Robert Mariano Sr.
?It?s a profitable thing because when you bought something here in the auction you can sell it for more than what you bought it for.?

Janelle Chanona
?What you mostly buy when you come here??

Robert Mariano Sr.
?I mostly buy bicycle, because I have a used bicycle store.?

Sheila Crawford, Auctioneer
?McKenzie twelve dollars, McKenzie twelve dollars, McKenzie twelve dollars. Going one, going two, sold to McKenzie twelve dollars.?

According to Police Press Officer G. Michael Reid, while some of the items are unclaimed property, most of the bikes were abandoned during the commission of a crime.

Janelle Chanona
?Bicycles, I know that Commissioner Zetina had at one point had labelled it as one of the most valuable assets to a criminal in Belize City. Are these bicycles going to be identified in some way by a number, so that when they are sold we have some sort of tracking system??

G. Michael Reid
?It?s difficult to do that at this point Janelle. We don?t have the infrastructure in place. It has been recommended and discussed at length, so far we don?t have a licensing of bicycles in place. We need to begin some sort of registration as such, but at this point that is not yet in place, but it is being discussed.?

Janelle Chanona
?Where does the money go that?s collected at the auction??

G. Michael Reid
?Money goes in three different parts: five percent goes to the Police Trust Fund which is a small amount, and ten percent goes to the auctioneer, and the rest goes to the government treasury.?

And while the general speculation is that police officers get dibs on the good stuff, this morning several members of the department, including Eastern Division Commander Crispin Jeffries, was bidding alongside everyone else.

Sheila Crawford, Auctioneer
?We?ll start it at five dollars…Thurton five dollars…Jeffries six dollars. Going one…eight dollars Thurton. Ten dollars Mr. Jeffries… Going one, going twice, sold to Mr. Jeffries, ten dollars.?

?Jeffries forty-seven…forty-eight…forty-nine…fifty. Sold to Mr. Gilharry, fifty dollars.?

But some bidders were convinced all Jeffries was doing was hiking up the price.

Robert Mariano Sr.
?Maybe he want them for himself too, who knows. But I would say it seems to me that is all what he?s doing.?

Dennis Usher, Bargain Hunter
?I sure is that because sometimes you bid pan it and all of a sudden as they seh going once, going twice and he holla twenty-five.?

G. Michael Reid
?People will always speculate that is not the case and I can assure you that Mr. Jeffries to take price up or down.?

Due to the ill health of the slated auctioneer, the police auction of confiscated vehicles impounded at the Queen Street station was postponed today to a date yet to be determined.

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