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Treasures go on the block at Sheriff's Department sale

August 29, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - Count Tupac Shakur's CDs with items like banana seats and 1970s music as merchandise that once was hot and now is not.

The chance to grab up some stolen items - like old-school bicycles and hit records - attracted a few dozen people to an auction of unclaimed property Monday at the Washington County Sheriff's Department.

"Don't call it junk. (It's) miscellaneous merchandise of a questionable value," auctioneer Jim Cochran called out as he cajoled a crush of bargain hunters to open their wallets.

According to Sheriff Charles F. Mades, the Sheriff's Department auctions items that were confiscated or found but left unclaimed.

"Some of it is brand new stuff - like shoplifters, and we catch them and the stores don't want it back," Mades said, pointing out a pile of new clothes for sale. Of the property that is recovered during arrests, most items sit ownerless, he said.

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The sale included everything from gun belts and tools to jewelry, fishing rods and mo-peds. CDs by Tupac and other rap artists shared space with a "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" game and a live recording by The Wiggles.

Also on the auction block were two 1994 police cruisers.

Sheriff's Department detectives and personnel from the federal government, which first owned the Ford Crown Victorias, probably put about 160,000 miles on each of the cars, Mades said. They probably would not fetch more than a couple hundred dollars, he estimated.

According to Mades, the money raised from auctions pays for Sheriff's Department extras, such as Tasers. Part of the proceeds are returned to the county, he said.

By law, handguns must be destroyed, Mades said.

As Cochran bellowed out bids, two men in orange jail jumpsuits sat not far from the crowd beneath a sign that read "restricted area car wash only." On the other side of the lot, some people looked over a selection of bikes.

At one point, Cochran held up a basket and begged for bids by invoking a popular company known to collectors: "Might be a Longaberger. Shows what I know - nothing."

Richard Sands, 50, of Hagerstown, held a wood box in his hands as he surveyed the rest of the merchandise and listened to Cochran's shtick. The box cost just $1, he said.

"I might make a cash box out of it, or something," Sands said as he ran his fingers across the box, which was marked in places. The purchase could be a practical find, but Sands conceded he saw something else in the simple box.

"I've got to clean it up, but I might make something out of it ... Or, a pirate treasure box, arrrgh!" Sands said.

Like several people at the sale, Sands described himself as an auction regular.

"I've bought so much over the years. I have pretty much everything," Sands said.

Lt. Mark Knight and Sheriff's Department personnel watched as Sands and others browsed tables covered by cameras, stereo speakers, baseball bats, basketballs and books of CDs.

"Hey, they'll buy anything. You put it on a table, they'll buy it," Knight said as one person bid $3 for a couple of pairs of off-brand sunglasses.

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