Online Property Auctions (Synopsis)

Toronto Police Service

Description: The Toronto Police Service’s Property and Evidence Management Unit was experiencing critical storage constraints and increasing costs for storage and management. In response, the unit set up online property auctions to sell unclaimed items (in accordance with Section 132 of the Police Services Act of Ontario). This initiative began as a pilot project in 2003. In 2004 it was adopted as a regular process. The online method is less costly than holding in-house auctions, which the unit did not have the physical or human capacity to undertake. The auction process is ongoing, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Police Auctions Canada is the current auction vendor for the Toronto Police Service. The vendor receives a 37% fee for each item sold.
Objective: The objective of online property auctions is to manage unclaimed items collected by the Toronto Police Service in a more efficient way. The system reduces inventory management costs and avoids costly in-house auctioning, while complying with the Ontario Police Services Act.
Outcomes: The online property auctions have been very successful. They ensure seamless and fluid inventory management, reduce storage constraints and provide exceptional levels of client satisfaction. Holding the auctions online makes them accessible to a broader community beyond the city of Toronto. The continuous auctioning process eliminates the stockpiling of inventory, reducing storage and management costs. Contracting the auctioning process out to a private company frees up resources in the Property and Evidence Management Unit. The financial revenues go to the Toronto Police Services Board and support community initiatives. Net revenue resulting from the online property auctions ranged from approximately $133,000 to $187,000 between 2007 and 2011.

Since the launch of Toronto Police Service’s online auction process, several other Ontario police services have adopted the same system.
Resources: The only financial requirement for launching this initiative was the placement of advertising in local newspapers. Staff time was required for initial research and set up, assessment of the pilot project and authoring of reports for the Toronto Police Services Board. The maintenance of the website, photographing of property, customer service, shipping and collection of funds are all managed by the auction vendor.
Province: Ontario
Record Entry Date: 2013-08-01
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