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'You name it, it's probably here' at Vancouver police auction

Some came with a specific purpose and laser focus, while others were content to aimlessly stroll the aisles.

A steady stream of people visited Able Auctions in Surrey on Thursday for a preview of the hundreds of items that will be up for grabs at this year’s Vancouver police recovered goods auction.

“I was just more or less curious,” said Yvonne Gertken, who came from North Delta. “There’s lots of stuff that’s really nice if you have the money.”

The biggest draw at the police auction, which has been taking place for about 30 years, is usually the bicycles. This year, there are around 250 mountain, road and cruiser bikes. Many are worth thousands of dollars and will be sold for a quarter of what they are worth.

“These are the ones that are the higher-end ones, the really premium models,” said Vancouver Police Department property and evidence control section supervisor Justin Hull.

Musical instruments, sporting goods, tools, small appliances and electronics are also common at the police auction. Jewelry is a big-ticket item, including a $7,500 watch and a collection of high-quality gold bracelets.

What’s notable this year, Hull said, is the spike in everyday items that are being auctioned. For instance, clear plastic bags full of brand-new clothing, perfume, toothbrushes and toothpaste, razor blades, batteries and office supplies. Hull attributed the increase to a crackdown on street vending in the Downtown Eastside.

“It’s really hard to find a pack of batteries and figure out where it came from, so it ends up here,” Hull said.

Theresa Herfst visited the auction to scope out bikes for her husband, but ended up browsing the tables of tools, appliances, toys and “totally random” grab bags.

“The toothbrushes and toothpaste up there would be helpful, actually,” she said, laughing. “We have four children and someone would find a toothbrush they like.”

Phil Genereux saw ads for the auction on television and brought Rose DuBois with him to look at tools and browse.

“It’s crazy,” DuBois said of the everyday items. “I was telling my friend it would be the perfect place for the hoarding personality.”

Hull said there are dedicated officers and staff who try to reunite people with their property, but the volume is so high they aren’t always successful.

“This is a bittersweet type of event because it represents a lot of items that we were unable to get back to their owners,” said Hull.

However, if someone goes to the preview and sees something that was stolen from them, they can point it out to an officer on site and it will be removed from the auction. If they can prove it’s theirs, they will get it back.

In past years, the auction has brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars, which goes into the city’s general revenue.

Long-time auctioneer Rob Kavanagh said the Vancouver police auction is one of the best that Able Auctions does, and he expects it will draw 500 to 700 people on Saturday.

“There’s everything here, really,” said Kavanagh. “You name it, it’s probably here.”

• The auction takes place on Saturday at Able Auctions (13557 77th Ave., Surrey) and starts with bikes at 9 a.m. sharp. Other auction items will follow. Registration is $10. A second free preview will be held from 12 noon to 6 p.m. on Friday.