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Evidence auctions help Holland police budget

The police say they're careful about which pieces of evidence are listed.

HOLLAND, Mich. (WZZM) -- From crime to cash: Holland police are turning evidence into surplus.

Each year, the department brings in hundreds -- sometimes thousands -- of dollars by selling items that were involved in crimes, but are no longer needed for investigations.

Captain Jack Dykstra says it's a careful process deciding what evidence police will sell when the rightful owners can't be found. The items range from things like lawnmowers to bicycles, and even cars. But not weapons.

Holland police sell the items through propertyroom.com, which shares in the profit.

In an average year, the Holland police bring in about $1,000 from selling evidence. Captain Dykstra remembers one of the biggest sales ever, which happened in the mid-90's.

"There was a Ferrari that was recovered on a traffic stop and it was related a drug crime," he said. "It was roughly $300,000 or $400,000, and those funds were split between WEMET, the police department, and I believe the sheriff's department, as well."

The department is required to hold items of major value for up to six months, and city council approval is also required.

Some items are off-limits altogether, Captain Dykstra explained. "Weapons are something we do not auction; we have those destroyed" most of the time, but in some cases very valuable guns can be carefully traded. "They can be traded with a federal firearms dealer. We've done that in the past, in exchange for maybe credit for some other equipment that we could get."

In some cases, the items recovered will be used by officers.

"Our training department needed a sawzall, and recently that was on the list," Captain Dykstra said.

Before an item is sold, the captain also said police consider the sensitivity of the crime in which it was involved.

Holland police say they're sometimes asked why they don't sell the items in a local auction. They say in this day and age with the Internet, they can make more money selling the items online.

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