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On police block: gold tooth, white Chevy Impala

Whether you're a classic car buff or searching for a circular saw, the St. Petersburg police auction may have something on your list.

Of course, if you're hunting for a gold tooth, the auction has that, too.

"God, I don't know where to start," said Otto Albuschat, an evidence clerk, as he toured the basement of police headquarters this week.

He pointed to a Harley Davidson, one of the 300 or more items for sale during Saturday's police auction. "Oh, that's a beauty. You want to have that," Albuschat said of the black 1990 Sportster with 8,664 miles.

Nearby, a grocery cart stuffed with tools sits ready for the block. Stacked in another bin are assorted electronics, including car radios and a cardboard box with 21 beepers. Not far from the bin are televisions and an inflatable boat, complete with a Yamaha engine and barnacles.

Bidding on all this, and much more, begins at 8 a.m. Saturday on the patio of police headquarters, 1300 First Ave. N. The money generated from the unclaimed and seized property goes to the city or a special police account that pays for grants, equipment and training.

"Don't forget," Albuschat said of the unclaimed property, "none of this is guaranteed. It's as is and seen."

One thing for sure, the 1963 white Chevrolet Impala, which was seized, not only runs, it purrs.

Last week, Detective Warren Lee slipped behind the steering wheel, over the smooth red vinyl seats, and fired up the V8 engine of this two-door collector's dream.

"I tell ya," Lee said, "I'd hate to have lost this."

Carl M. Tenbrock, 50, did on May 13.

Police say he had 90 pounds of marijuana in the trunk when officers pulled him over in the 800 block of 18th Avenue N in St. Petersburg. The car was seized, authorities say, because it was used to transport and carry contraband.

"When we first took it," Lee said, "he really would call up and talk to us about, "Can he do things to get the car back?' This was his toy; his baby."

Lee said the Chevrolet will sell for whatever a collector is willing to pay. In this case, it could be $2,500 to $15,000.

Other forfeited items for sale include gold jewelry and a Rado watch; stereo and computer equipment; and four other cars, one of which is a 1989 Mercedes 420 SEL. The forfeited items will be sold at 9:45 a.m. at the unclaimed property auction.

All the property for sale tells a story.

The copper tubing was stolen from a construction site. The mowers, the edgers _ some of them were abandoned.

The gold tooth? Well, it allegedly was knocked out of a woman's mouth by an irate boyfriend who was drunk and wanted sex. Police wrote the woman a letter in March, asking her to claim the property. She never did.

Joseph J. Meyer, a St. Petersburg dentist contacted by the Times at random, said the tooth may have some scrap value. Maybe $10 or $20, depending on the weight of the alloy metal.

But he said, "It's virtually valueless. It won't even buy you a dinner."

The auction

The St. Petersburg Police Department will hold a public auction at 8 a.m. Saturday on the patio of police headquarters, 1300 First Ave. N. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. Unclaimed property will be sold "as is" with no inspection before the sale. In conjunction with the property auction, forfeiture items also will be sold beginning at 9:45 a.m. Saturday. These items, which include two motorcycles and five cars, can be inspected 45 minutes before the bidding. A $250 deposit is necessary to hold forfeited property (if the property sells for less than $500, complete payment must be made at the auction). Cash and local checks with identification will be accepted.