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Annual Grand Forks police auction offers wheels for a steal

McMullen Auctioneers employee Jerry Weibye tosses a t-shirt from the inside of a van Wednesday afternoon at the Grand Forks Impound Lot. The auction company is preparing vehicles for sale Saturday morning at the 10 a.m. Police Auction. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald1 / 8
Cars in various conditions sit in the Grand Forks Impound Lot before the annual Police Auction Saturday morning. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald2 / 8
Cars sit in the Grand Forks Impound Lot Wednesday afternoon with their trunks open after McMullen Auctioneers employees removed any contents and garbage in preparation for Saturday's Police Auction. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald3 / 8
McMullen Auctioneers employees Jerry Weibye, left, and Scott Jenkins toss garbage from a van into a dumpster Wednesday afternoon at the Grand Forks Impound Lot while preparing vehicles for the Police Auction Saturday morning. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald4 / 8
Dozens of bicycles hang in a shed at the Grand Forks Impound Lot Wednesday afternoon ready to be sold Saturday morning at the Police Auction. Prices on the bicycles vary from about $5, to as much as $200 for the more professional racing bikes, according to McMullen Auctioneers employee Scott McMullen. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald5 / 8
Scott McMullen of McMullen Auctioneers hooks an impounded vehicle up to jumper cables while testing keys in the cars that still run Wednesday afternoon at the city impound lot. The cars will be sold Saturday morning at the Grand Forks Police Auction. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald6 / 8
Scott McMullen of McMullen Auctioneers walks to a Pontiac Sunfire Wednesday afternoon to see if the car will start after being hooked up to jumper cables at the city impound lot. The cars will be sold Saturday morning at the Grand Forks Police Auction. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald7 / 8
A Red River High School diploma along with some CDs and headphones sit in an impounded car at the city impound lot while employees from McMullen Auctioneers prepared the cars for sale at Saturday's Grand Forks Police Auction. A cap and gown were also found and thrown into a dumpster with the rest of the clothing found in cars. Photo by Kile Brewer/Grand Forks Herald8 / 8

A graduation cap and gown were unceremoniously tossed into a Dumpster at the Grand Forks city impound lot Wednesday where workers were cleaning out cars that were abandoned and will be sold at the annual police auction.

Not only will the cars be put up for auction but also the odds and ends inside them. Workers from McMullen Auctioneers of Thief River Falls, which will conduct the auction on Saturday, unearthed from the cars three laptops, an Xbox game console and a suit, along with various knick-knacks like electronics cables, tools and a bucketful of ice scrapers.

Every year the lot accumulates cars, which are left to sit for months at a time.

One of the cars, a 1995 Plymouth Neon, was involved in a police chase last October. It was impounded after its driver crashed it into a tree. Another, a 1988 Cadillac Deville, was seized as part of a drug investigation. The building on the lot also houses hundreds of abandoned bikes, which will be auctioned off as well.

Lt. Dwight Love of the Grand Forks Police Department hesitated to speculate on why some people do not come to claim their belongings from the lot.

“If I was forced to guess, it would be the fact that fixing the vehicles or picking them up is more of a cost than just letting the (city) auction them,” he said.

Impound fees might be a factor that deters owners from picking their cars up from the lot. The cars that have been totaled aren’t worth much.

Owner of McMullen Auctioneers Joe McMullen said that the auction does draw in workers from auto parts stores. But other cars up for auction appear to have nothing wrong with them, like a 1997 Pontiac Sunfire.

The money that the auction brings in goes into the city’s general fund. Police estimate that it generates about $15,000. But the money is not the main motivation for the auction.

“We’re just trying to get rid of some of the stuff (at the lot),” said Love.

If you go:

What: Annual Grand Forks police auction

When: Saturday, June 7, 10 a.m.

Where: The Grand Forks Impound Lot, 1800 N. 36th St.

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