To the highest bidders: artifacts of crime
GUNS AND BLING: Property comes from evidence lockers.
By TATABOLINE BRANT
Anchorage Daily News
Published: November 11, 2006
Last Modified: November 11, 2006 at 03:17 AM
Dozens of firearms confiscated by or turned over to Anchorage police will be auctioned off to the public for the first time in several years today, along with other, more colorful items from the department's evidence lockers.
The items up for bid -- a Smith & Wesson pistol, four diamond rings, a trumpet, a Remington pump shotgun, for example -- come from a variety of sources, according to Amber Garrison, a property and evidence technician at the Anchorage Police Department.
Police seized some of the stuff from crime scenes, she said. Other items were turned in or found. Still others belonged to people who went to jail and asked police to hold their stuff because the jails won't, then never returned to claim it.
"The jail won't even hold a backpack," Garrison said. "We get more safekeeping backpacks all the time. I would have to say that's our No. 1 item."
All the things up for sale have gone through a rigorous screening process, set out in state and city laws, allowing them to be sold, Garrison said. The process involves advertising the items for 45 days to try to find their rightful owners, she said.
"We can't just get rid of property and evidence at will," Garrison said. "There are some cases where we will never get rid of the evidence -- like homicides."
The auction at 1000 E. Fourth Avenue will mark the first time in at least five years that private individuals can purchase firearms from the police department's evidence lockers: A Colt Anaconda revolver, a Savage rifle with scope and sling, an Izhevsk pistol, a Charter Arms revolver with pearl hand grips.
For several years, only federally licensed firearms dealers could purchase the guns, according to Anchorage Assemblyman Dick Traini. But two months ago the 11-member body voted unanimously to change that rule, said Traini, who spearheaded the effort after hearing from constituents about it.
Because a licensed firearm dealer runs the gun auctions, it made sense to cut out the extra layer and let the public buy directly from the auction house, Traini said. Buyers still have to pass a background check, just like they would if they went to buy a gun from Wal-Mart, he said.
"We used to sell them years ago to the public," Traini said. "Then it changed because people worried about the city being liable." That problem has been fixed this time around, he said.
The city will probably make more money off the gun auctions now, too, Traini said. "The price we were getting from dealers was a lot less."
Traini, former president of the Alaska Gun Collectors Association, said he expected a good crowd at the auction Saturday. He said he hadn't heard from any gun dealers about what they think about the change in rules.
"The dealers are pissed -- highly," said North Pacific Auctioneers president Charles Brobst, who for three years has held the city contract to auction off the police department's stuff -- to licensed dealers only.
Brobst will be running the auction today. His company takes approximately 15 percent of the money generated, and the rest goes to the city.
Brobst said he has mixed feelings about the change in rules regarding firearms. "It's going to cause me a tremendous amount of paperwork," he said. "But I'll make more money, and the city will make more money."
In addition to the police department items up for sale -- which include everything from calculators and toolboxes to a carved moose antler and 47 firearms -- stuff brought in by individuals will also be for sale, including household items and 300-plus Beanie Babies.
"We get all kinds of stuff," Brobst said.
While some states prefer gun buy back programs, which usually don't work, firearms here are auctioned off to the public. I love Alaska!