Suffolk County police held an auto auction in Westhampton. NewsdayTV's Drew Scott reports. Credit: Newsday/Kendall Rodriguez

A blue 2008 Honda Accord leaned slightly to one side on a pair of flat tires. Its windshield bore the scar of some prior crash, with a bowling ball-size crater in it on the driver’s side.

Tom Olsen, of Jericho, examined the car early Saturday morning, one of 93 vehicles set to be auctioned by the Suffolk County Police Department at its impound facility in Westhampton.

“Windshields aren’t too expensive to replace,” Olsen said as he assessed the car’s potential worth. “Tires are not horrible. It just depends kind of what the CARFAX would say and how cheap it is.”

With a budget of around $2,000, Olsen said he hoped to find a “decent” vehicle at the auction since his current Accord, a 2009, has high mileage.

He was one of more than 475 people to register on a cold morning for a chance to take home a vehicle that had been seized by police for various reasons, with driving-while-intoxicated crimes one of the top causes. Most of the proceeds go back to Suffolk County police or another department that seized the vehicle, such as Southampton or Riverhead.

Bidders scope out their chance to take home a vehicle...

Bidders scope out their chance to take home a vehicle Saturday at the Suffolk County Police Department's impound facility in Westhampton.  Credit: John Roca

Shortly after 9 a.m., as bidders crammed in front of a stage, Officer Dan Hartman began the hourslong process of auctioning off each vehicle, with a starting price of $500. Hartman stood at a lectern with a microphone and read a brief vehicle description before opening the bidding. He scanned the crowd as bidders raised their hands, showing a paper with their registration number.

Officer Dan Hartman served as auctioneer Saturday.

Officer Dan Hartman served as auctioneer Saturday. Credit: John Roca

“It’s nice to talk to people, get out there and talk to the public,” Hartman said before the auction began. “We’re going to try to give them a good show and a good deal.”

When it was all over, Suffolk police said the auction had generated about $237,000 in sales.

Some of the higher-end models were auctioned first, including a pair of Mercedes-Benzes and a Porsche. Bidding escalated quickly on a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee that sold for $22,000. A 2003 Porsche Boxster sold for $9,000 despite a glaring warning written on the windshield: “Cracked oil pan do not start!”

It was hard to find a car without noticeable defects — flat tires, busted front ends, a missing hood. Midway through the auction, after more than three hours, some of the less-desirable vehicles such as a 2004 black Jeep Liberty barely fetched the minimum, at $600.

Some disgruntled shoppers left before the bidding began, citing the condition of the vehicles and lack of value with so many bidders.

Brandon Gobourne, of Wheatley Heights, a teacher, attended his first auction with the hopes of finding a commuter car to travel back and forth to Manhattan.

“This has been an experience, I will say that,” he said. “Obviously I’ve never been to one of these before, so I’m curious to know how the bidding goes.”

Jose Maradiaga, of Huntington, landed a pickup truck at the...

Jose Maradiaga, of Huntington, landed a pickup truck at the auction. Credit: John Roca

Wayne Birdsall, of Bellmore, said he scoped out the vehicles during a preview period Friday with his friend. A red 2010 Dodge Charger caught their attention.

As his friend paid the $4,800 winning bid, Birdsall stood by the car where an officer had just written “sold” in white marker on the windshield.

“Great condition, it’s got the sunroof and everything,” Birdsall said.

For those lucky enough to secure one of the prized vehicles, there was pure joy.

Carmen Morales sat in the driver’s seat of her new 2010 black Mercedes-Benz S550 and clapped. “Whoa!” she yelled. “I think I deserve it. I work so hard in my life.”

Morales, who splits time between the Bronx and Pennsylvania, paid, together with her son, $8,500. A Kelley Blue Book value search listed the private resale of the car at more than $12,000 if in good condition.

She said it was the third Mercedes she’s owned during her life. She turns 70 on Aug. 1 and considered the S550 an early birthday present.

Latest videos


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months