Buying at Police Seized Car Auctions
Have you been giving thought to perhaps taking advantage of the incredible deals you’ve heard about when it comes to buying at police seized car auctions? Well, you’re not alone. Practically everyone has heard about these police seized car auctions, and the often amazing buys available through them. And, practically everyone, if asked, expresses an interest in taking part in one of these police seized car auctions. But, when also asked, very few people will say that they every actually have attended a police seized car auction, or have any solid plans to do so in the future. So, why all the interest but not much follow through? The fact of the matter is, people know these police seized car auctions are out there and are taking place, but very few people know much about them — when they take place, or how they, themselves, might be able to participate.
In this article, I’m going to do my best to try and provide you with some of the information you’ll need to know regarding how police seized car auctions work and how attending one can potentially land you a truly killer deal on a quality automobile.
First off, it’s important to realize that each police seized car auction that might be taking place at any given location will have specifics regarding that particular auction which must be taken into account by interested attendees. There’s really no way to properly apprise yourself of these specifics for each particular auction other than to contact the party organizing the auctions and finding out the specific information directly from them. With that said, however, the information contained in this article should provide you with some general, yet very helpful insights to aid you in locating such auctions, and what you’ll generally need to know before participating.
Buying at police seized car auctions is one of the best methods available to obtain quality used (and sometimes new) vehicles at severely discounted prices. A lot of folks seem to think that the only types of automobiles that are regularly offered up at such auctions are actually old, decommissioned, and/or otherwise surplussed police cars. This isn’t, in fact, the case at all. While such vehicles are regularly put on the auction block at such events, they’re not the only type vehicles commonly made available. Police seized car auctions regularly feature vehicles that were obtained through asset seizure and forfeiture of property.
Seized and forfeited vehicles come into police possession when the vehicles have been confiscated by the police due to the vehicles use in, or association with, a crime or criminal. In 1986 a federal law went into effect which encourages police departments to seize assets in the execution of a criminal investigation as a means to discourage dealers in illicit narcotics through denying those criminals the proceeds from their illegal activities. So, let’s say the police conduct a raid on a known drug kingpin’s mansion. They will seize his cars, jewelry, property, and any other valuables that they have reason to believe was obtained by the kingpin through the proceeds earned from drug trafficking offences. The kingpin and his associates and family loses his valuables, and a strong message is sent to others: Crime does not pay. If you break the law, eventually, you’re going to lose everything you gain from it.
Many of the items offered up to the highest bidder at police auctions are obtained in this manner. (And, unfortunately, some are obtained by way of, shall we say, less than scrupulous means) When you’re buying at police seized car auctions, some of the vehicles you’ll be looking at that are up for auction might be surplus vehicles — old police cars, and the like, but many may be seized vehicles obtained by the police department in the manner described in the previous paragraph. These cars will be auctioned off to the highest bidder, and the money fetched will go to funding the police department, or sometimes to other governmental interests.
Police seized car auctions are taking place all the time in cities and towns right across the country. In some larger cities, due to the frequency at which such seizures occur, police seized car auctions may be held at regular intervals throughout the year — they might occur on a regular date every three months or so, depending on the specific city. In smaller towns they might happen intermittently. And, in some states, the auctions are centralized — a state agency will collect such seized inventory from a number of individual police departments and hold regular auctions featuring items sourced from each of the individual police agencies.
No matter how frequent they may be, someone interested in buying at police seized car auctions will usually be able discover when and where one of these auctions is scheduled to be held in their area by looking through a local newspaper, or by consulting an online auction listing source, such as this one. The notice published in the paper will provide the date and time at which the auction is scheduled to take place. It will sometimes also provide a listing of some or all of the automobiles that are to be put up for auction on that date. In some cases there might be a date published occurring prior to the date of the actual auction that has been set aside for interested parties to inspect the vehicles on offer. Taking advantage of a qualified listing service is more likely to provide much more detailed information that will allow you to make the wisest and most informed decisions regarding purchasing any particular vehicle, and how much you should spend. Along with that, such services will notify you directly and proactively of any police seized car auctions (or, sales and/or auctions of other types, if you choose) in your area. They will also have available to you on-line search features that will allow you to enter specif and detailed criteria any time you wish and then be presented with a list of upcoming opportunities that match the criteria you entered.
Putting forth the effort to actually inspect the vehicles prior to the time of auction is an absolute must. When actually buying at police seized car auctions, in almost all cases, the vehicles that are being auctioned off are sold on an “as is” basis and are not sold with any sort of warranty or guarantee. Once you place a bid and the auctioneer drops the gavel and yells “SOLD!”, you own the vehicle — no matter what may or may not be wrong with it. If you placed the high bid and then come to find out that the vehicle doesn’t even have an engine in it, and you didn’t know because you passed on the opportunity made available to you to fully inspect the vehicle prior to the auction and you never opened the hood and looked, well, that’s your tough luck. The onus is on you to familiarize yourself with the item being bid on and to structure your bid accordingly. For this reason the wise bidder will always take full advantage of the opportunity provided for inspecting the vehicle — some people buying at police seized car auctions, if not so qualified themselves, will even bring a certified mechanic friend along with them to inspect the vehicles.
One other thing to be well aware of is the fact that while the car has been seized by the police or government and they are putting it up for sale at their police seized car auction, this does not guarantee that the vehicle is necessarily entirely free from any liens. There could very well be outstanding debt still owing to a finance company that was held by the person from whom the car was seized. If you successfully bid on the vehicle, you may be on the hook to actually settle that debt with the original finance company. This is somewhat rare, of course, but it’s not entirely unheard of. And, the party conducting the auction will be required to provide adequate notice of any such outstanding debt that may be attached to the vehicle before they can put it up for sale. You should be aware, however, that just because you aren’t aware of any such notice given doesn’t mean that they didn’t necessarily provide proper notice. They have a legal obligation to make such notice readily available, but you also have a legal obligation to take reasonable steps to ensure that you’re fully apprised of such notice.
If you get the winning bid and later come to find out there is money owing on the vehicle, but they didn’t take reasonable measures to provide notice of such, then you’re off the hook. The sale is null and void. They’ll have to take the vehicle back and refund your money. But, if you get the winning bid, later come to find out there is money owing on the vehicle, and they DID take reasonable measures to provide notice, but you just weren’t aware of it, then YOU own the car, and YOU own the associated debt, and it’s not their problem anymore. It’s yours. So, the wise and prudent individual always makes sure that they are taking all reasonable measures and action to fully familiarize themselves with items being put up for auction and to find out as much information as they absolutely can regarding such items.
And, of course, there’s no excuse not to inform yourself in such a manner. Simply taking about a minute to ask an official at the auction if there is any outstanding debt on any of the vehicles, or what their policy or protocol is regarding such things should adequately cover your butt. If you ask and they say “no outstanding debt” and it later turns out there is, it’s their problem, not yours. You made the purchase under the clear understanding, confirmed by an official representative of selling party, that there was no outstanding debt, and the fact that it turns out there is voids the agreement of sale — they can keep their car, and you can keep your money.
With these things in mind, and with an eye to buying at police seized car auctions using a little bit of wisdom and prudence, such auctions can, and very often do, provide truly astounding opportunities for obtaining quality used vehicles at incredibly amazing savings. If you happen to be in the market for a used car, it would be well worth your time to investigate any upcoming police seized car auctions which may be taking place in your area. Or, perhaps you’re thinking of starting your own business obtaining vehicles from such sources and flipping them for a profit? If that’s the case, then buying at police seized car auctions is most assuredly worth investigating.