It's a real steal: surfers snap up hot bargains

Canny American bargain-hunters are shunning new year sales in stores this month. Instead, they are visiting the internet where police departments have started offloading stolen goods.

The goods offered online range from confiscated stolen televisions to Lamborghinis, and include articles used as evidence in trials for which police no longer have any use. No one has a wider inventory than the New York Police Department, which has signed a contract with propertyroom.com, a California internet company, to put its recovered items up for auction. Propertyroom keeps some of the proceeds and the rest goes to police.

The site is also helpful for victims of crime. One man who lost a guitar in a taxi saw it for sale online a few weeks later. He was able to persuade property.com that he was the rightful owner - his social security number was written on the back.

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