Police raise £1m through eBay sales

A replica armoued car sold by Leicestershire Police on eBay
A replica armoued car sold by Leicestershire Police on eBay
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A replica armoured car and a microlite are among the items confiscated from criminals that helped police raise £1m on eBay.

Leicestershire Police set up a page on online auction site eBay in September 2009. The aim was to sell goods paid for using proceeds of crime and recovered from criminals.

The site has been a success and money raised has now topped £1m, much of which will go back to fighting crime.

Head of the economic crime unit Paul Wenlock said: “We have generated possibly twice as much from these sales than if we had sent the same items to auction.

“The site is also a daily reminder that we will take civil as well as criminal action to ensure criminals do not benefit from their crimes.”

Most of the items sold are confiscated from convicted criminals. They are usually paid for with money obtained through crime. This could be from drug dealing, fraud or selling stolen goods.

In theft cases where the crime has a direct victim, the force does its best to reunite the items with their owners. If this is not possible and the victim’s property has been sold, a judge can order the thief to pay compensation.

But in cases such as fraud and drug dealing, where the items have been paid for legitimately but with money obtained through crime, the items can be sold by police.

Among the items sold since the eBay site was set up were an Aston Martin DB9, which raised £63,000, and a Rolex watch, sold for £13,000.

A replica armoured car and motorbike and a microlite were among the more unusual items. Mr Wenlock said: “The armoured car was actually at Nottinghamshire case, but we can store and sell property for them.

“The car was bought through the proceeds of crime and the person was convicted of drug offences. Once he was convicted the judge was able to order that it be confiscated.”

Any money received from the eBay site first has to go to the Home Office. Some of its stays there, while the rest is split between Leicestershire Police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the courts.

Mr Wenlock said: “Often the enquiry starts from information from members of the public. If you know anyone who appears to be living a lifestyle beyond their visible means, we would like to know. They may be living on the proceeds of burglary, money-laundering, fraud or drug dealing. We can take both civil and criminal action to be sure they do not benefit from these activities.