Unclaimed property headed off to eBay

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Pedro Oliveira Jr.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
— Sheriff’s offices in Wisconsin can now use online auction websites such as eBay to get rid of unclaimed property.

Gov. Jim Doyle on Friday signed a bill that gives counties the option of selling items on the Internet.

Under previous legislation, the sheriff’s office had to advertise items locally and hold an auction to get rid of unclaimed stolen property or belongings left behind at the county jail. The revenue often was less than what it cost to store the items and pay for an auction, Walworth County Sheriff David Graves said.

“This will clear up the space in evidence rooms and free up deputies’ time so they can be out there protecting the public like they’re supposed to be,” Graves said. “This will save tax dollars and catch up the law with technology.”

Bill sponsor Sen. Neal Kedzie, R-Elkhorn, said the bill gives county officials another option for disposing of property. The items sold can be recovered, stolen or found merchandise; property left by a prisoner at the county jail; or property left by a deceased resident of a county nursing home, he said.

“A lot of times, at least with the sheriff, the items don’t amount to a whole lot,” Kedzie said. “And so here they are, having to keep everything stored, or hire a truck or two to take it to a site, get an auctioneer, set up a date, and all that, especially when there is little return.”

Kedzie’s bill does not change the procedures for disposing of items. Sheriff’s offices are still expected to keep the items for about a year before auctioning them off.

Once the year is up, they can use a traditional auction or an online auctioning website to sell the property.

“This makes the items more accessible to a larger universe of individuals over the Internet, and again, it would just make it much simpler for county sheriff’s to dispose of these items,” Kedzie said.

Last updated: 1:52 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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