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Police auctions have been a fascinating aspect of law enforcement logistics for decades, offering the public a chance to purchase items that have been confiscated, found, or no longer needed by the police. These auctions include a wide range of items, from vehicles and electronics to unique collectibles, all sold at potentially low prices. Understanding the history of these auctions not only provides insights into a niche market but also highlights changes in law enforcement policies and public engagement over the years.

The Origin of Police Auctions

The concept of police auctions dates back to the early 20th century when law enforcement agencies needed a method to dispose of confiscated goods. Initially, these auctions were held physically at police stations or local government premises. The primary goal was to clear out police storage facilities while providing a financial return to the local government's budget. These events were often not well-publicized, limiting them to those in the know or living nearby.

Possible Reasons for Seizure

Police departments may seize items for several reasons, often related to law enforcement activities. Here are some of the most common reasons:

  1. Evidence of Crimes: Items that are believed to be evidence in a crime may be seized to help establish the facts of a case during an investigation or trial.

  2. Contraband: Items that are illegal to possess, such as drugs, illegal weapons, or counterfeit goods, are typically seized when discovered during police operations.

  3. Forfeiture: Assets derived from or used in criminal activity may be subject to forfeiture, including money, vehicles, or property. This is often done to disrupt and dismantle criminal enterprises.

  4. Safety Concerns: Items that pose immediate safety threats, such as explosives or unsecured firearms, may be seized to prevent potential harm.

  5. Recovery of Stolen Property: Items identified as stolen may be seized in order to return them to their rightful owners.

  6. Regulatory Inspections: Items that fail to comply with regulatory standards (like unsafe consumer goods or vehicles not meeting safety regulations) may be seized during inspections or regulatory checks.

  7. Public Health: Items that pose public health risks, such as contaminated food or hazardous materials, may be seized to prevent exposure to the public.


Each seizure typically follows legal procedures and is intended to support law enforcement efforts, regulatory compliance, or public safety.

Evolution Over the Decades

Over the years, police auctions have evolved significantly. The 1970s and 1980s saw a rise in the popularity of these auctions, as economic conditions prompted more people to seek bargains. During this era, the range of items expanded dramatically, partly due to increased law enforcement actions against drug trafficking, which brought a variety of luxury and exotic items into police possession.

The Impact of Technology

The digital revolution has transformed how police auctions are conducted. Online platforms began to host these auctions, vastly increasing accessibility and participation. Websites like Apple Auctioneering Co collaborate with various police departments to auction a wide array of items online, from everyday vehicles to jewelry. This shift not only broadened the buyer base but also increased transparency in how these auctions are conducted.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

As police auctions grew in popularity, they also faced scrutiny regarding the legal and ethical implications of selling seized property. Regulations have been developed to ensure that the origin of auction items is thoroughly vetted and that items are not sold until all legal avenues are exhausted. These processes ensure that the rightful owners have every opportunity to reclaim their property before it is auctioned.

The Future of Police Auctions

With advancements in technology and a growing emphasis on sustainability, police auctions are set to continue evolving. Furthermore, as digital platforms become more sophisticated, the bidding process in these auctions is becoming increasingly streamlined and user-friendly.

Police auctions represent a unique intersection of law enforcement, commerce, and public engagement. From humble beginnings as small, local events to their transformation into major online platforms, they have provided financial benefits to local governments and opportunities for bargain hunters. As they continue to adapt to technological advances and legal frameworks, police auctions remain a compelling topic for anyone interested in history, law enforcement, or the thrill of the auction.

Public police auctions of seized and abandoned vehicles conducted throughout the State of Texas.

Police Auctions of Seized Vehicles

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How to register:

  1. Select the auction you wish to participate in.

  2. In the menu bar, create an account by clicking "Login / New Bidder" or by clicking "Register to Bid" button. Click the "New Bidder? Click Here" button. Enter your email address when prompted. A new window will pop up instructing you to complete your account information. The username and password that is created will be utilized for all future online auctions. Important: The information provided when setting up the bidder account will be the information automatically assigned on the title work.

  3. Once your account has been created select the auction that you wish to participate in by clicking on the title of the auction or by clicking the "View Catalog" button. Click on the "Register to Bid" button. Enter your user name and password then accept the Terms & Conditions. You are now ready to place your online bids. 

How to place a bid:

  1. Once registered, select the lot you wish to place a bid on. You may click the "Bid (amount here)" button for a one time bid, or enter your "Maximum Auto Bid" by selecting the lot and physically typing in the highest you are willing to bid for that item. 

  2. Technical bidding details to understand and consider: 

  3. Soft Close: All lots end with a "Soft Close." A "Soft Close" means that if any bid is placed within the last three (3) minutes of the close of the Auction, the bid will automatically extend the closing time an additional three (3) minutes. Example: If a bid is placed at two (2) minutes before close, it will extend the closing time to five (5) minutes. This feature protects Bidders from being outbid without the opportunity to be notified, and therefore allows a Bidder to place another bid before the close of the Auction.

  4. Placing a "Maximum Auto Bid": Please be aware that when placing your "Maximum Bid", the website will bid on the Bidder's behalf at the preset bid increment until the Bidder’s "Maximum bid" is exceeded. At that point, the Bidder will be notified that they have been outbid (if that option is selected when registering). High Bidder will only pay one increment more than the competing Bidder. Please watch the Auction’s closing time stop-clock to determine exactly when the lot will close.

"I've placed a bid, but it says Pending." Now what?

Pending Bids are bids that are placed that are not immediately accepted or put into effect by the Auction Company. Typical reasons for pending bids are as follows:

  • First-Time Bidder: New accounts or first-time bidders that have never participated in our auctions will be thoroughly analyzed and vetted. 

  • Bidder Reputation: We are part of a nationwide network of auctioneers that utilize the Hibid bidding platform. Hibid has developed a rating system for Bidders to protect auctioneers. Bidders accrue points placing bids and registering for auctions. Any time a Bidder is permanently declined by an auctioneer, the bidder loses 20 points. If a bidder has a negative score, he or she may not be able to bid with other auctioneers on the Hibid platform.

  • Dealer Only Salvage Auctions: Additional bidding qualifications on assets offered with salvage/ dismantler notations must be met prior to the auction closing. Salvage dealers that wish to bid on these assets must submit a current copy of their State issued Salvage Dealer license for review. CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT LICENSE. Once approved, the Auction Company will update the Bidder's account and any bids that are Pending will be approved/ accepted. This must take place prior to the auction closing. These bidding privileges will remain in effect until the expiration date on the license. It is the Bidder's responsibility to resubmit a new license upon renewal to avoid Pending bids.

  • Asset Requires a Deposit: When a deposit is required, see Section (6) of the Terms & Conditions for step-by-step deposit instructions.


You've won! What to expect once the auction closes:

  1. Once all items in the auction close, email notifications will be sent (from to all participating bidders with the final results. For each lot the bidder bids on it will list "successful" or "outbid." The auction company will be seeking final approval from the U.S. Treasury on all lots at this time. 

  2. Once approval is received, high bidders will receive an email (from with payment instructions and our bank account information (options: wire, bank deposit, or cashier's check overnight). Please check your email (and junk mail) periodically after receiving this notice. Payment must be RECEIVED within 48 hours of acceptance.

  3. Once payment is received, the auction company will execute the title documents and email them to the buyers via DocuSign for electronic signature. 

  4. Once documents are signed by the buyer, Property Release documents will be emailed to the buyer as well as the storage vendor.

  5. Once Property Release email received,  buyer must immediately contact storage vendor to arrange property removal. 

  6. Original title documents will be mailed to buyers. Once originals title documents received, originals need to be processed at local DMV. 

Please note: these assets will remain in the name of the defendant in which they were seized, until the titles are processed with the state. It is very important that the titles be transferred with your local tax office immediately upon receipt.  

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