Illegal crime in the United States is a multimillion dollar industry, but if you watched last week's "Jobs That Don't Suck" episode, you know that you can get just as much bang for your buck working on the right side of crime. (Plus, you get to stay out of prison!)
Ahmad "AJ" Jaber is a curator for PropertyRoom.com, a website that auctions off stolen evidence that law enforcement agencies no longer need in their possession. We were fascinated by Jaber's unique career, and wanted to hear more about his responsibilities, so we reached out to the "Criminal Curator" for more inside info. Check out our Q&A.
How did PropertyRoom.com come about?
Founder Tom Lane, a former police officer and detective, recognized a need for a full-service company specifically designed to help law enforcement agencies move surplus property and sell it at auction. PropertyRoom.com started off small with a few clients, but word spread fast and we now serve over 3,000 law enforcement, municipal and other organizations nationwide.
Have police officers ever needed the evidence returned to use it for a case?
While agencies follow strict rules on how long they are required to hold items before putting up for auction, there have been occasions when we've received a call needing an item back. We have a proprietary tracking system that allows us to find any item at any given time during the process, so it makes the request easy.
Has anyone ever spotted their stolen goods on PropertyRoom.com and asked for it back?
Yes, on occasion we have received messages from customers who see an item they believe is theirs. Anything from a high school class ring to a custom bicycle, or a handmade 1950 European accordion, have been returned to the rightful owners who once had their items stolen from them.
If the rightful owner spots their stolen item, are you required to return it? What’s the process like to ensure that the item is, in fact, theirs?
We have very strict guidelines on verifying the rightful owner of an item on our site. We work with the customer who believes the item is theirs and the agency that provided the item to us. After a thorough check, if we are able to verify the item is rightfully theirs, we return the item.
Which item has been sold for the highest auction price ever? How much did it sell for?
We regularly get high-end, brand-name items on our site, but some of the highlights include a 2002 Bentley Azure, which sold for $66,000, an extremely rare 1907 High Relief Saint-Gaudens $20 Double Eagle Gold Coin, which sold for $27,000, and a beautiful diamond-encrusted Patek Philippe watch, which sold for $76,000.
How do you determine at what price the item gets sold?
Most of our auctions start at $1 and have no reserve price. It is free to bid, so customers have a real opportunity to get a great deal on everything from tablets, high-end handbags, rare coins, cars and trucks. The winning bid is the final price of the item so the bidders decide the final price.
On “Jobs That Don’t Suck,” co-host Nessa joked that she wouldn’t be able to work at your company because she’d be too tempted to steal some of the items. Has this ever actually happened?
We take security very seriously. We've been very fortunate that our interview and background check processes have been thorough weeding out potential persons of this character type. Should the situation arise, we have protocols in place to move swiftly and forcefully.
What does the future hold for PropertyRoom.com?
As long as there is theft in America, we continue to provide our services to the law enforcement agencies that help protect us. Keep checking PropertyRoom.com, because you never know what you're going to find!