Dallas auctions unclaimed jewelry from corpses, convicts

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by JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on November 8, 2011 at 6:49 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 2:42 PM

DALLAS — Dallas County is auctioning more than 200 unclaimed rings, watches, necklaces, and other items that once belonged to corpses, convicts and patients at Parkland Memorial Hospital.

"It's one we try to take a little extra special care because of the value of the items," said Shannon Brown, the assistant administrator at Commissioners Court. "These are higher-priced items than what we have in our other auctions."

Most items are seized or confiscated by the sheriff's office; some are unclaimed by Parkland patients; but several lots — including some watches — came from the county morgue.

"We do have unclaimed bodies that we take care of, and this may be property associated with those bodies," Brown explained. "Or perhaps the family chose not to take the property once they retrieved the body."

Like a lot of governments, Dallas County regularly auctions cars, computers, furniture and even animals. But jewelry auctions are rare. This is only the second auction of its kind here since 2003.

"There may be some deals there," Brown added. "We try to give the best descriptions, but I would encourage you to look them over on the Web site photos."

The auction is online, and opening prices range from $9 to more than $1,600.

"I think once you go to the Web site and search, you'll find it's an awful lot like eBay," Brown said.

The most expensive item being auctioned is a 1986 gold coin the sheriff's office seized.

"It's a 1986 one ounce Gold Eagle, very circulated, and it weighs 33.8 grams," said Anne Dalton of  Lone Star Auctioneers.

Last year's jewelry auction netted the county $14,283.

Brown said she expects this auction to make as much if not more by the time it ends Monday, November 14.

"Anything that's not sold, we will consider holding for a future auction," Brown said.

E-mail  jwhitely@wfaa.com

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