Bidders hunt for bargains as state auctions off forfeited property

Seized vehicles that were auctioned off by the state on Saturday
Seized vehicles that were auctioned off by the state on Saturday

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hundreds of bidders jammed the Pikake Room at the Blaisdell Center Exhibition Hall as the state auctioned off forfeited property Saturday.

The public auction is held by the Department of the Attorney General, and the items up for bid are, basically, ill-gotten gains.

"All the property is seized in connection with some sort of criminal activity, and they're basically taken from criminals as part of their punishment for committing certain specific crimes," said Kern Nishioka, the attorney general's asset forfeiture program manager.

The bidders could choose from 140 lots, ranging from motor vehicles to jewelry to television sets to electronic devices. Some of them were old, some new, and a few were not in full working condition.

"We have a lot of regulars come out looking for bargains," said Nishioka. "Same thing for the cars, we have a lot of regulars come out that, you know, fix the cars, tidy them up and resell them."

There were 14 vehicles on the auction block, with the most furious bidding coming in on a 1993 Toyota  4-wheel drive, 5-speed pickup truck with custom wheels and tires. The winning bid came in at $6,500.

While there are some who buy the vehicles to fix and resell them, others make a bid on what they hope will be a cheap second car.

"I got a Mercedes, 1990 Mercedes," said Rod Felton. "I wasn't looking for that today. It's pretty hard to haul tile in my business, but I think my wife will like it."

One family lost out on a mo-ped after bidding quickly went above what they were willing to pay. "It's a little bit higher than I thought it would be, absolutely," said bidder Scott Papineau.

While the auction is held three times a year, the number of items isn't consistent, but Nishioka said there's always something for bidders. The auction itself raises anywhere from $20,000 to $120,000 on average, he said.

Money raised in the auction is used by state and county law enforcement agencies to combat crime.

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