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Police turn to evidence room for revenue

The Town of Bethlehem is doing its best to leave no stone unturned when it comes to saving money, and the town police department recently gained approval to look in its evidence room for some extra revenue.

The Town Board has approved the use of the eBay-style Web site propertyroom.com as a clearinghouse for disposed evidence to be auctioned off.

The company will collect property from closed cases from the department, evaluate it, sell it and ship it to customers. Propertyroom takes half the sale price and the other half is returned to the town, to be deposited in the general fund. Other area agencies like the Colonie Police Department and Albany Police Department already use the site.

It's a win-win for the town, said Lt. Robert Berben of the Bethlehem Police Department. Since it doesn't create more work than is already required, it's basically all profit.

It's just a nice clean way of getting rid of property, he said.

Right now, the department does not auction off recovered property. If it's not claimed it is destroyed or thrown away. It's hard to say how much revenue the agreement might bring, since the amount and value of property the department recovers varies.

The department most commonly recovers items involved in larceny cases or in credit card thefts. In the latter case, stores are reimbursed for fraudulently obtained goods by the credit card companies, and they usually don't want the recovered goods back.

The department will continue to hang on to bicycles, said Berben, for use in the regularly-held Bike Expo events.""

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