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Police fence stolen goods online

And the BSA acts as if it is the police

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Ever wonder why the police have the best drugs and hi-fi systems? Sorry, that is a completely false and libellous allegation and completely without foundation. However, there is the question of what happens to all the kit that the police inevitably end up with - the lost, found and stolen goods that no one ever claims.

Well, they are sold at police auctions. But then few people know where and when these take place and many more balk at the idea. Well, no more! Two e-commerce companies - eBay.co.uk, you know, and iForce - have persuaded 15 police forces throughout the UK to sign up to a new online auctioning system.

The system combines iForce's software and eBay's trading site. As they tell it, the new setup will benefit government, businesses, charities as well as average Joe. It will save the authorities the cost of collection, storage and delivery, increase the goods' sale price and benefit all those that buy em cheap. They've got a point too.

"The potential of the web to revolutionise traditional approaches has been somewhat forgotten in recent months as the dotcom gloom has been peddled. This announcement shows that there are still many new areas where e-commerce solutions have huge potential to re-engineer inefficient business and organisational processes," said Matthew Peacock, group chief executive of iForce. Now that's what we like to hear - optimism.

It works like this: iForce does the collection and delivery, cataloguing, stock management and warehousing. The goods are then sold on eBay.co.uk. Stuff catalogued so far includes sports clothes, CDs, computers, DVD players and jewellery. The service will be up and running the first of December (just over a week's time).

On the other side of the coin: while the police enter the commercial IT world, the crazed bunch at BSA (Business Software Alliance) seem to think they can become the police. They can't of course but that hasn't stop them sending out official looking audit forms to hundreds of companies.

In them you are asked to go round the office and justify possession of your software. And god help you if you haven't got the certificates. Note that the BSA doesn't actually say you have to fill it in - because you don't - but it goes as far as it can. And if you don't? Well don't come running to us when you find a toothless watchdog sucking on your leg.

Oh, and the deadline was yesterday. ®

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