Melissa Shiu, of Speonk, successfully bid $5,100 for a 1989...

Melissa Shiu, of Speonk, successfully bid $5,100 for a 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser at the Suffolk police auction in Westhampton on Saturday. Credit: John Roca

A sky blue 2018 BMW M3, a crowd favorite, sold for $20,300 at the Suffolk County police vehicle auction on Saturday — at which the officer auctioneer advised bidders to not “get caught up in the auction hype.”

The BMW was among 85 seized vehicles sold at the impound facility in Westhampton during the police department's second auction of the year. All vehicles had a starting price of $500.

The condition of most vehicles on the lot surpassed normal wear and tear. Some cars had busted grilles and smashed windows; others, flat tires, peeling paint and missing keys. Several displayed odometers tracking more than 150,000 miles.

Auction rules are simple: Vehicles cannot be turned on until the event ends. Buyers must pay in full and cash (up to $2,000). After a completed bid and purchase, the winner assumes full responsibility for the vehicle, including towing, removal and transportation. And all sales are final.

Because snagging one of these vehicles can be a gamble for newbies and veterans alike, the SCPD invited participants to preview the vehicles on Thursday and Friday, and an hour before bidding started on Saturday.

“We want the public to know what they're getting just short of starting it,” said Officer Dan Hartman, who has served as the event’s auctioneer many times since it resumed in person in 2022. “There is usually something for everybody. You just have to know what you're looking for and stick to your budget. You can’t get caught up in the auction hype.”

 Because of the auction's success, the department has expanded the event, Hartman said. On Saturday, they sold T-shirts for the first time and hired an on-site coffee truck. The proceeds will go toward buying new supplies like laminators for the office. 

Melissa Shiu, of Speonk, was one of nearly 400 registered buyers at the yard on Saturday morning. An auction regular, she had her eye on a 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser in the second row. About an hour into the event, it went on the block, and she waved her number in the air, praying the auctioneer would not miss her. Unfazed by other bidders, her arm stayed up the entire time. She bobbed with joy when Hartman finally pointed at her and yelled, “Sold for $5,100.”

“I wanted that truck so bad,” Shiu said. “I would have paid $20,000. I just knew I was leaving here with it.”

Troy Muench, Shiu's boyfriend, hugged her as they celebrated the win. He told Newsday that despite the vehicle’s high odometer, the couple was impressed by its seemingly reupholstered interior. Both Muench and Shiu are collectors.

As the morning progressed, the crowd dissipated as about 50 waited for the infamous BMW M3 to have its turn. In the meantime, potential bidders and passersby eyed the performance car, muttering, “BMWs are BIG money wasters” and “too expensive,” noting the vehicle’s extensive damage.

The car's front end had been crushed in an accident, so it came with a salvage certificate.

Around noon, Hartman introduced the M3 and laughed. “All right, now for the most controversial car here,” he said. “I promise it is not as nice as it appears.”

A man in a white hoodie and sunglasses shouted first, upping the original $500 minimum to $10,000. Eventually, a father and son wearing all black outbid him for $20,300. Though they would not reveal their names, they said they own a car dealership and prefer to be “discreet.”

Frequent auction attendee Adam Tucker, of Bay Shore, bought a 2009 Nissan Altima for $1,900 at the police auction last year. After bidding ended that day, Tucker said he opened the sedan to find “so much” drug paraphernalia that his wife barred their 6-year-old from riding in it.

Though impound officers try to empty vehicles of personal items and waste before the auctions, they sometimes miss things, said Hartman. In Tucker’s case, they had to reinspect and dump the contraband before Tucker could drive the Altima off the lot.

“Occasionally, there will be property — clothing, tools, drugs — in the vehicles,” Hartman said. “But, if there are things like needles in a back seat pocket, we try our best to get those out.”

Regardless, Tucker said he “got blessed” with the car he now uses as a commuter. It still runs smoothly and he has spent only a grand on upkeep, including regular maintenance like oil changes, he said.

“When you have to commute long distances for work daily, you don’t want to put a ton of mileage on a brand-new car,” Tucker said. “These cars are good — sometimes they just come from bad places.”

The SCPD will host two more auctions this year, on Sept. 21 and Dec. 7.

A sky blue 2018 BMW M3, a crowd favorite, sold for $20,300 at the Suffolk County police vehicle auction on Saturday — at which the officer auctioneer advised bidders to not “get caught up in the auction hype.”

The BMW was among 85 seized vehicles sold at the impound facility in Westhampton during the police department's second auction of the year. All vehicles had a starting price of $500.

The condition of most vehicles on the lot surpassed normal wear and tear. Some cars had busted grilles and smashed windows; others, flat tires, peeling paint and missing keys. Several displayed odometers tracking more than 150,000 miles.

Auction rules are simple: Vehicles cannot be turned on until the event ends. Buyers must pay in full and cash (up to $2,000). After a completed bid and purchase, the winner assumes full responsibility for the vehicle, including towing, removal and transportation. And all sales are final.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Among 85 seized vehicles sold at the Suffolk police auction on Saturday in Westhampton was a 2018 BMW M3. It sold for $20,300. 
  • Nearly 400 registered buyers took part Saturday in the Suffolk County Police Department auction at the Westhampton impound facility.
  • Under auction rules, winning bidders must pay in full and cash (up to $2000) and assume full responsibility for the vehicle, including towing, removal and transportation. And all sales are final.

Because snagging one of these vehicles can be a gamble for newbies and veterans alike, the SCPD invited participants to preview the vehicles on Thursday and Friday, and an hour before bidding started on Saturday.

“We want the public to know what they're getting just short of starting it,” said Officer Dan Hartman, who has served as the event’s auctioneer many times since it resumed in person in 2022. “There is usually something for everybody. You just have to know what you're looking for and stick to your budget. You can’t get caught up in the auction hype.”

 Because of the auction's success, the department has expanded the event, Hartman said. On Saturday, they sold T-shirts for the first time and hired an on-site coffee truck. The proceeds will go toward buying new supplies like laminators for the office. 

400 registered buyers

Melissa Shiu, of Speonk, was one of nearly 400 registered buyers at the yard on Saturday morning. An auction regular, she had her eye on a 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser in the second row. About an hour into the event, it went on the block, and she waved her number in the air, praying the auctioneer would not miss her. Unfazed by other bidders, her arm stayed up the entire time. She bobbed with joy when Hartman finally pointed at her and yelled, “Sold for $5,100.”

“I wanted that truck so bad,” Shiu said. “I would have paid $20,000. I just knew I was leaving here with it.”

Melissa Shiu, of Speonk, was among nearly 400 registered bidders a...

Melissa Shiu, of Speonk, was among nearly 400 registered bidders a the Suffolk County Police Department vehicle auction in Westhampton on Saturday. Credit: John Roca

Troy Muench, Shiu's boyfriend, hugged her as they celebrated the win. He told Newsday that despite the vehicle’s high odometer, the couple was impressed by its seemingly reupholstered interior. Both Muench and Shiu are collectors.

As the morning progressed, the crowd dissipated as about 50 waited for the infamous BMW M3 to have its turn. In the meantime, potential bidders and passersby eyed the performance car, muttering, “BMWs are BIG money wasters” and “too expensive,” noting the vehicle’s extensive damage.

The car's front end had been crushed in an accident, so it came with a salvage certificate.

Around noon, Hartman introduced the M3 and laughed. “All right, now for the most controversial car here,” he said. “I promise it is not as nice as it appears.”

Suffolk police Officer Dan Hartman is the auctioneer at the Suffolk County...

Suffolk police Officer Dan Hartman is the auctioneer at the Suffolk County police vehicle auction in Westhampton on Saturday. Credit: John Roca

A man in a white hoodie and sunglasses shouted first, upping the original $500 minimum to $10,000. Eventually, a father and son wearing all black outbid him for $20,300. Though they would not reveal their names, they said they own a car dealership and prefer to be “discreet.”

Drug paraphernalia left

Frequent auction attendee Adam Tucker, of Bay Shore, bought a 2009 Nissan Altima for $1,900 at the police auction last year. After bidding ended that day, Tucker said he opened the sedan to find “so much” drug paraphernalia that his wife barred their 6-year-old from riding in it.

Though impound officers try to empty vehicles of personal items and waste before the auctions, they sometimes miss things, said Hartman. In Tucker’s case, they had to reinspect and dump the contraband before Tucker could drive the Altima off the lot.

“Occasionally, there will be property — clothing, tools, drugs — in the vehicles,” Hartman said. “But, if there are things like needles in a back seat pocket, we try our best to get those out.”

Regardless, Tucker said he “got blessed” with the car he now uses as a commuter. It still runs smoothly and he has spent only a grand on upkeep, including regular maintenance like oil changes, he said.

“When you have to commute long distances for work daily, you don’t want to put a ton of mileage on a brand-new car,” Tucker said. “These cars are good — sometimes they just come from bad places.”

The SCPD will host two more auctions this year, on Sept. 21 and Dec. 7.

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