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Public auction w/ police gear


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  • Public auction w/ police gear

    Criminals hoping to impersonate police officers could outfit their cars with lights and sirens purchased for hundreds of dollars from any number of online dealers.

    But the gear also is available for as a little as $26 from a vendor even closer to home — Harris County.

    Three light bars from atop police cars, a box of strobe lights and an assortment of siren amps and speakers are up for bid at the county's online auction site, with pickup available at a warehouse on the city's east side. As of Friday afternoon, the light bars were up to $26 and $27, while the siren amps had fetched a bid of $152.50.

    County officials acknowledge the equipment could fall into the wrong hands, but say selling it benefits taxpayers and the volunteer firefighters and small-town police departments that typically buy the emergency items. Junking the gear would be wasteful since similar equipment, along with phony badges, patches and clothing, is available elsewhere, they said.

    'Available to anybody'
    "All of that type of equipment is available to anybody who wants to buy it," said Commissioner Steve Radack, a former police officer and constable. " ... I can't see throwing them away if you can sell them for something."

    County Purchasing Agent Jack McCown, who oversees the auction of surplus items, said officials have considered restricting the sale of police equipment, but could not find a viable way to do that. Such equipment comes up for auction several times a year, he said. This online auction began Aug. 18 and is set to end Monday.

    Online auction giant eBay prohibits the sale of police-related items such as emergency lights and sirens, uniforms or badges. Light bars for sale on Friday on the site came in amber and white, not red, white and blue like Harris County's. However, official-looking police department patches described as collectors' items were available.

    Some phony business
    Houston-area police have reported several incidents involving phony officers in recent years. A man impersonating a police officer pulled over a teenaged boy near Alvin in July, according to KTRK-TV. Although no harm came from that incident, a police impersonator fondled a woman after pulling her over in 2000 on U.S. 59 near the town of Beasley.

    Radack himself was pulled over by a fake cop in the early 1990s. He called the real authorities and had the man arrested after he presented a tattered badge. Still, he said the bigger problem is the sale of used police vehicles, especially the distinctive blue cars the Houston Police Department used to drive.

    Police vehicles generally are stripped of equipment and the decals and lettering are removed.

    Keith Branner, the county's fleet services director, said the light bars generally are in working or repairable condition when put up for auction. He did not have information about the condition of the sirens.

    Harris County Sheriff's Office spokesman Deputy David Crain said the department had no problem with the county auctions since the products are readily available. Anyone can attach lights and sirens to his vehicle, he added, but it is illegal to turn them on.

    Criminals hoping to impersonate police officers could outfit their cars with lights and...
    ‘Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.’
    Oscar Wilde

  • #2
    I can buy all this stuff from Galls, but it would cost me a lot more...
    Though their numbers are many, as the grass upon the field, we will count them at the end of the day.


    • #3
      Originally posted by kingsman View Post
      I can buy all this stuff from Galls, but it would cost me a lot more...
      Galls is just one place, there are plenty of other on-line dealers that you can purchase these items from and you do not have to be LEO to do so.




      • #4
        I laughed so hard at one local agency. They were selling off some old lab equipment as part of an auction. They were attempting to sell a couple of triple neck flasks. Until they found out it was just a little illegal............
        The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.


        • #5
          old news

          old news, has been around so long... and there are many other ways to get it...

          I started buying used lightbars 2+ years ago, would pick up 20+ of them for a few hundred bucks, clean them up, test them and sell them for 200-250 a pop... I was a volunteer fire fighter back than, so they did not question anything to start with....

          I did though make sure that people had a genuine purpose for them (wrecker, volunteer,sherrif dep. etc) I have no desire for my wife to get pulled over by some whacker...


          • #6
            Man, I wonder if I should get some lights and put them on the wall in my room, just as a kind of cool thing lol.


            • #7
              If you put AMBER lenses on them they do have a legal use for just about anybody I guess.
              Just pay your dues, and be quiet :-)


              • #8
                They could restrict the buyers.
                Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
                Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein


                • #9
                  There are dozens of places both online and physical storefronts that will sell just about anything to anyone. Gall's has been spanked a whole bunch of times for this, but they continue to do it. That is why they don't get my business.

                  I am partners in a business that does sales, service, and installation of this equipment. Most of our business is directly with agencies. For the few individuals that we get, we won't sell any warning equipment other than amber lights unless they provide us with credentials. I have had more than one Chief thank me for verifying their employees before selling to them.

                  And when I go to buy something for myself, I will only patronize businesses that verify my credentials. Even though I may be on a first-name basis with the owner of the business, he still asks for my credentials when I buy a patch or embroidered goods.


                  • #10
                    Heck, in the little town up the road from the little town I'm in they were selling radios, light bars, and other stuff that I usually associate with LEO's at the "community yard sale"!
                    R.I.P. Sgt. 1st Class Raymond J. Munden

                    You're service and sacrifice will not be forgotten.

                    Kieth M.
                    I once knew a guy who said, "I'll step over any nine to get to three threes!"

                    I knew at that precise moment that he and I would never get into a fistfight over a woman.


                    • #11
                      With all the taxes paid into Harris County by home owners, they're hoping to recover a lousy couple of hundred bucks. What about all this homeland security stuff.
                      The liberal politician has the only job where they go to the office to work for everyone but those who pay their salary.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by tony.o View Post
                        . What about all this homeland security stuff.
                        that was myt point. for 26 dollars you can start getting this stuff and use it anywhere.
                        thats just crazy. i know online you can get anything. but does it make it right or legal. thats my point.

                        Down the street from the parole office I worked in, there was a dollor store that sold, ski mask, slim jims, hard plastic crowbar looking things
                        and of course......mace.

                        for about 10 dollars these guy could buy stuff and get 25 years for what it involed!
                        ‘Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.’
                        Oscar Wilde


                        • #13
                          Sometimes there are politics involved...go figure! A number of years back we were upgrading our firearms and a number of us wanted to purchase our old Beretta's for off-duty, personal use. We were going to trade them in to the gun company, so we offered to pay even more for them than the trade-in-value. I even had a gun dealer willing to mediate the transaction so all liability would be taken off the County. Nope! The answer from the County was that public employees cannot benefit from county property any more than a private citizen can, but we could feel free to go bid on them at the public auction (with all our clientele) if we chose to.

                          Maybe I can see not being able to get a hot or preferential deal on a used crown vic as a government employee, but this is a flippin gun!
                          He who feels punctured must once have been a bubble. --Lao Tzu


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