The National Police Agency confirmed Thursday that stolen goods with an estimated value of 46.93 million yen were auctioned over the Internet in Japan between January 2000 and the end of last March.
The agency reported 910 cases in which stolen goods were offered for sale, either prompting police action or complaints from the victims.
But the NPA believes these cases represent just the tip of the iceberg.
If suspected but unconfirmed transactions are included, the number of items stolen could rise to more than 11,000, with an estimated value of 628 million yen, the agency said.
The number of confirmed cases of stolen goods auctioned on the Internet in 2000 stood at 203. This figure rose to 473 in 2002.
According to the NPA, the anonymity afforded by the Internet has created a convenient venue for trade in stolen property.
The 910 cases include 182 involving cars or car parts, valued at 30.2 million yen; 332 cases involving motorcycles, valued at 7.06 million yen; and 137 involving personal computers, valued at 3.41 million yen.
About 86 percent of the cases in question involved repeat illegal transactions by sellers. Of the cases in which the age of the sellers was established, 44 percent involved minors.
The NPA is trying to revise enforcement regulations for the amended Antique Dealings Law, under which operators of Internet auction sites must be registered and must detail personal information on sellers and their goods.
The amended law is expected to take effect later this year.