How to Write a Civil Forfeiture Christmas List

Christmas is right around the corner and many police departments are writing their wish list. But police departments don’t have to beg parents to buy them the things they want, they need only accuse people of possessing property suspected (by a random cop with no need to acquire a warrant or even have evidence of his accusation) of being related to a drug crime. This is the wonderful world of civil forfeiture and there are seminars that help police departments write their lists:

The seminars offered police officers some useful tips on seizing property from suspected criminals. Don’t bother with jewelry (too hard to dispose of) and computers (“everybody’s got one already”), the experts counseled. Do go after flat screen TVs, cash and cars. Especially nice cars.

In one seminar, captured on video in September, Harry S. Connelly Jr., the city attorney of Las Cruces, N.M., called them “little goodies.” And then Mr. Connelly described how officers in his jurisdiction could not wait to seize one man’s “exotic vehicle” outside a local bar.

“A guy drives up in a 2008 Mercedes, brand new,” he explained. “Just so beautiful, I mean, the cops were undercover and they were just like ‘Ahhhh.’ And he gets out and he’s just reeking of alcohol. And it’s like, ‘Oh, my goodness, we can hardly wait.’ ”

This is why I’m glad I don’t drive anything flashy. I very much doubt the police are drooling over a 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix or a 2005 Ford Ranger. People with nice things just make themselves targets for state sponsored theft. And the theft is so beloved by police departments that they give each other tips on maximizing profit.