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Why Is Hamilton County Auctioning 19 Fur Coats?

fur coats
Courtesy Hamilton County Online Public Auction
When 'Cincinnati Edition' host Michael Monks discovered there were 19 fur coats on Hamilton County's auction site, he asked the WVXU news department for answers.

Hamilton County's online public auction site has all the usual government surplus items you'd expect: desks, chairs, a few cars from the sheriff's auto auction. And, right now, 19 fur coats.

Yup, you read that correctly. There are 19 fur coats - some real, some fake - ranging from white mink to pink, purple and leopard print.

These coats - did we mention there are 19?! - made us wonder, what on earth? So we contacted Corporal Cynthia Zoellner at the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department.

"Most of what we put into auctions are things that have been forfeited by the courts for various reasons (like) investigative cases, such as cars, jewelry, the aforementioned furs," Zoellner reports.

While she can't say much about the coats' provenance, she does state they were "forfeited by the courts due to an investigation by the regional narcotics unit."

The bidding starts at $10 and the minimum bid ranges from $50 to $500. The auction runs through April 4.

Hamilton County Purchasing Director JoAnn Cramer says the coats are a bit unusual.

"Normally we have items that are for offices: tables, old laptops, old clocks, chairs...," she lists. "We also get random things like furs and jewelry from the sheriff's department."

That happens about once or twice a year, she adds.

Cramer estimates the county generates between $36,000 and $40,000 per year from its online auction. The funds either go back to the departments where the items came from or end up in the general fund.

Starting next week, the sheriff's department will hold all of its auctions online. Previously, the department might hold onto unclaimed property for up to five or six years until it had enough items to merit an in-person auction. Now they'll go up as they become eligible for disbursement.

The agency already holds its auto auctions online, Zoellner says, because the process is faster and doesn't leave cars sitting around for months, falling into disrepair or loosing additional value.