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Park Rapids police patch a hot ticket item on eBay

Police patches are popular in Europe, notably England and France.

Law enforcement patches, the ones worn on uniform shirts, are hot commodities among collectors and eBay enthusiasts.

"There's lots of collectors out there," Park Rapids Police Chief Terry Eilers said. Patches purportedly from his department are currently selling on eBay for $3.25.

"Are you kidding?" he asked. "We pay $6 for them. Maybe I should do some online shopping."

Eilers said he gets weekly e-mail requests from collectors, possible scam artists and other officers for the patches. He ignores most.

"If it's an officer in town and I meet them and see their badge, I'll sometimes trade patches with them," he said,

As the former sheriff of Douglas County, he said he made it a point to collect all 12 patches from across the United States that said "Douglas County" on them.

He said some replicas are counterfeit, but in the days of digital imaging, it's pretty easy for someone to pull your department's logo off "letterhead, city and county Web sites," scan it and reproduce it.

Patches are immensely popular in Europe, he said. Either England and France have large collector communities, or "you wonder if it's a terrorist," he said.

Many patches are collected for their uniqueness, he said, and many sport hometown embellishments.

"Most are legitimate," he said. And he gets a kick out of the Park Rapids patches selling currently.

"It' kind of fun to see it out there," he said.

But, as of Monday night when bids closed, no one had submitted a bid.