'Legalized stealing' in Michigan helps close the budget gap

The Supreme Court's Kelo ruling on government taking private property through eminent domain is nothing compared to what's going on in parts of cash-strapped Michigan. The Detroit News reports that government has taken a shockingly brazen new approach to tax collection, that reads like a story from the worst periods of the dark ages.

Local law enforcement agencies are raising millions of dollars by seizing private property suspected in crimes, but often without charges being filed -- and sometimes even when authorities admit no offense was committed.

The money raised by confiscating goods in Metro Detroit soared more than 50 percent to at least $20.62 million from 2003 to 2007, according to a Detroit News analysis of records from 58 law enforcement agencies. In some communities, amounts raised went from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands -- and, in one case, into the millions.

"It's like legalized stealing," said Jacque Sutton, a 21-year-old college student from Mount Clemens whose 1989 Mustang was seized by Detroit police raiding a party. Charges against him and more than 100 others were dropped, but he still paid more than $1,000 to get the car back.

"According to the law, I did nothing wrong -- but they're allowed to take my property anyway. It doesn't make sense."

With regular tax confiscation revenue--from things like income and sales taxes--decling, don't think for a moment that unionized law enforcement doesn't know that its rich health and retirement packages are at risk.

Police departments right now are looking for ways to generate revenue, and forfeiture is a way to offset the costs of doing business," said Sgt. Dave Schreiner, who runs Canton Township's forfeiture unit, which raised $343,699 in 2008. "You'll find that departments are doing more forfeitures than they used to because they've got to -- they're running out of money and they've got to find it somewhere."

The increase in property seizures merely is a byproduct of diligent law enforcement, some law enforcement officials say.

"We're trying to fight crime," said Police Chief Mike Pachla of Roseville, where the money raised from forfeitures jumped more than tenfold, from $33,890 to $393,014.

All in all this is just another facet of life in a liberal, democrat controlled state. Bring on the 2010 elections.


The Supreme Court's Kelo ruling on government taking private property through eminent domain is nothing compared to what's going on in parts of cash-strapped Michigan. The Detroit News reports that government has taken a shockingly brazen new approach to tax collection, that reads like a story from the worst periods of the dark ages.

Local law enforcement agencies are raising millions of dollars by seizing private property suspected in crimes, but often without charges being filed -- and sometimes even when authorities admit no offense was committed.

The money raised by confiscating goods in Metro Detroit soared more than 50 percent to at least $20.62 million from 2003 to 2007, according to a Detroit News analysis of records from 58 law enforcement agencies. In some communities, amounts raised went from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands -- and, in one case, into the millions.

"It's like legalized stealing," said Jacque Sutton, a 21-year-old college student from Mount Clemens whose 1989 Mustang was seized by Detroit police raiding a party. Charges against him and more than 100 others were dropped, but he still paid more than $1,000 to get the car back.

"According to the law, I did nothing wrong -- but they're allowed to take my property anyway. It doesn't make sense."

With regular tax confiscation revenue--from things like income and sales taxes--decling, don't think for a moment that unionized law enforcement doesn't know that its rich health and retirement packages are at risk.

Police departments right now are looking for ways to generate revenue, and forfeiture is a way to offset the costs of doing business," said Sgt. Dave Schreiner, who runs Canton Township's forfeiture unit, which raised $343,699 in 2008. "You'll find that departments are doing more forfeitures than they used to because they've got to -- they're running out of money and they've got to find it somewhere."

The increase in property seizures merely is a byproduct of diligent law enforcement, some law enforcement officials say.

"We're trying to fight crime," said Police Chief Mike Pachla of Roseville, where the money raised from forfeitures jumped more than tenfold, from $33,890 to $393,014.

All in all this is just another facet of life in a liberal, democrat controlled state. Bring on the 2010 elections.