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updated 9/20/2006 9:22:01 PM ET 2006-09-21T01:22:01

An e-commerce startup that sells property seized by police is asking college students to register their iPods, bikes and laptops just in case those items get stolen and later show up.

StealItBack.com, a free service offered in conjunction with seven-year-old police auction site PropertyRoom.com, is asking students to provide serial numbers, photographs, sales receipts and other identifying data.

"Properly documenting valuable goods is a necessary step to recovering them, whether they find it through StealItBack, their local police department or the university lost and found," said Tom Lane, a former detective and founder of both sites.

StealItBack.com has so far reunited more than 30 owners with stolen property, including an electric guitar from a Japanese punk band and an antique class ring from the Illinois College of Pharmacy from the 1890s.

Three weeks ago, radio-controlled off-road car enthusiast Glen Krause of Chula Vista was reunited with his Mammoth ST truck and a Mugen MBX5 Pro Spec buggy, each worth $1,500. The cars were pinched at a race in February, when Krause — known on the circuit as RacerNine — turned away from his pit table.

"I had no hope of getting them back — none, zero, hopeless," said Krause, 44. "But then this guy who knows me said, 'Dude, I found your cars on PropertyRoom!' ... I got the auction number and they sent them back to me, and they're in the same condition as when I lost them."

Mission Viejo-based PropertyRoom contracts with more than 700 law enforcement agencies to collect, package and sell unreturned, found and seized goods, such as diamond rings, stereos, cars and even land.

After collecting unclaimed property from police, PropertyRoom.com workers scan in each item in one of four warehouses. Software alerts workers when an item's serial number or other feature matches something registered on StealItBack.com.

If local law enforcement officials verify the match, StealItBack.com will send back it back free of charge.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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