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Sheriff's auction to be clear selling

There will be no shtick and fast talking from auctioneer Jim Thomas. "We're going to keep this at a low level so people can understand what we're saying," said Thomas, 45, who is to run an auction Saturday for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Department.

No "auctionese" at this gathering, said Capt. Rodney Steckel of the Sheriff's Department.

"Some people get confused by that and jump in without knowing what they're doing," said Thomas, a clerk who works in the department's property division. "We want people to go away happy."

Sheriff's officials plan to clean out a warehouse of abandoned or unclaimed items that have been turned over to the Sheriff's Department, Steckel said. Some items are unclaimed evidence from closed cases.

About 350 items worth roughly $13,000 will be auctioned off, Steckel said. Televisions, videocasette recorders, stereo equipment, tools, computers and jewelry are available, he said.

Most of the items, however, are cycles _ about 200. They range from the adult-size tricycles to mountain bikes.

The bidding on some bikes might start as low as $10, Steckel said. Some bikes are new and will go for more. The good news, he said, is the average price of a bike during a similar auction conducted by St. Petersburg police recently was $34.

Officials even hope to auction off a central air-conditioning unit that was never claimed by an insurance company after it had settled a claim, Steckel said. Steckel said he and Thomas hadn't decided on a starting price on the unit.

Proceeds from the auction will go to pay costs incurred over the past six years to store the items, said Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Marianne Pasha. An estimate on that cost was not available Monday, she said. Any money left over will go into the county's general fund, she said.

The auction will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and the public is invited at no charge. It will be at 4707 145th Ave. N in Clearwater. Bidder registration is scheduled from 7 to 8 a.m.