Shopping deals at the police station

March 25, 2009 4:09:52 PM PDT
Did you know there is a place online, where you can go bid on items that have been in police department property rooms? It's called propertyroom.com. We are talking about jewelry, designer sunglasses and handbags, cars and computers. Some of it is brand new and in many cases it's stolen merchandise that was never claimed.

With more than 75,000 square feet of space, the Houston police property room is still bursting at the seams.

"It's a goal of ours to get rid of the property," said Captain Ceaser Moore of the Houston Police Department.

Web sites are popping up that specializes in the auction of stolen, seized, found and surplus goods from all over the country. (SEE THEM)

We decided to check it out propertyroom.com. We hit the "quick wins" category. Here we found several items with bids starting at a dollar.

We first bid on a diamond and citrine ring. Propertyroom.com says it came from a store liquidation in Philadelphia and retails for up to $129. We win the ring for $16. Sterling silver diamond charm earrings are from an overstocked Internet vender. They retail for $300, we get them for $10.

A men's watch has a retail value of $35, we bid a dollar and won. We also picked up amethyst earrings for $8 and sterling silver diamond hoops for $19. We really splurged on a seven carat ruby and diamond ring for $200. Propertyroom.com estimates its retail value at $850.

But did we really score some amazing deals? We took our pieces to Houston jeweler Mark Klein to find out.

"It is a ruby and it is genuine," Klein said.

For $200, Klein says we paid a fair price for the ruby ring. The reason it was so cheap? He called the quality of the stone "brutal."

"It is what it is, you probably got what you paid for," he said.

The diamond and citrine ring, the butterfly earrings, even the amethyst studs are all good deals according to Klein, but the best deal of all was the watch!

On the flip side, Klein said we wasted our money on what propertyroom.com claimed were sterling silver diamond earrings.

"It's a piece of pewter and they put nickel on it and they put one diamond and called them diamond earrings," he said.

We contacted propertyroom.com to inquire about those earrings and they said the merchant who sold them stands by the item.

A couple of other notes about the site:
- There is a return policy in case you're not satisfied with your purchase.
- Everything you buy is shipped separately and to ship even a piece of small jewelry will run you about $12. So that one dollar watch actually cost me $13.

See the web site HPD uses on our Consumer Blog.

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