State trying to seize five high-end cars involved in Canadian street race
High-end sports cars sit in an impound lot in Surrey, British Columbia, on Thursday.
September 9th, 2011
11:44 AM ET

State trying to seize five high-end cars involved in Canadian street race

Would losing your Maserati for speeding be akin to paying a million-dollar fine for jaywalking?

That may be a question five drivers in British Columbia will soon ask themselves.

The five are among 13 owners of high-end sports cars who had their vehicles impounded last week after what Royal Canadian Mounted Police allege was a street race on a provincial highway in suburban Vancouver that reached speeds of 120 mph (200 kph). Police put the total value of the vehicles at $2 million.

Police fined each of the drivers, 12 men and one woman all under age 21, $196, but lacked evidence to pursue more severe sanctions, they said. They looked for other avenues to get their message across that street racing would not be tolerated.

“After speaking to witnesses and gathering information, police determined there was not enough evidence to proceed with criminal charges,” Superintendent Norm Gaumont, head of Traffic Services for the RCMP in the Lower Mainland, said in a press release. “With the criminal avenue closed to us, we decided to see if there was enough evidence to proceed civilly.”

So while some of the vehicles were returned to their owners Thursday, five others won't be back on the street any time soon.

"We are going to pursue forfeiture of five of the vehicles," British Columbia Solicitor General Shirley Bond said.

Police said the forfeiture action was warranted because it was clear the vehicles were used in a manner that posed a danger to the public.

“Based on the fact that they had been involved in street racing, that there was the potential for catastrophic injury or death, that their driving showed a complete disregard for the other motorists on the road,” police Cpl. Holly Marks told CNN affiliate CBC-TV.

Bond said only five cases are being pursued because official believe they have enough evidence to gain forfeiture in only those five cases, according to CNN affiliate CTV.

"In British Columbia, we expect people to behave responsibly on our highways," said Bond, whose office oversees the BC Civil Forfeiture Office, which brings forfeiture cases before the province's Supreme Court.

But Micheal Vonn, policy director for the BC Civil Liberties Association, says forfeiture of the pricey vehicles isn't warranted when there are no criminal charges involved, according to CTV.

"This is just an end run around the criminal process," she's quoted as saying. "There's a reason why we don't charge people $1 million for jaywalking. We expect a court to make a fair assessment of what is due in terms of violation or offence."

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Filed under: Automobiles • Canada • Crime
soundoff (570 Responses)
  1. GeorgeBos95

    Civil forfeiture is also used in the US to bypass the criminal justice system and usurp people's rights.

    it shouldn't be allowed, ever.

    September 9, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. 8th GradeTeacher

    It sounds like our government here in the US should also be on the lookout for automobile terrorist. Young people today need a firm hand when it comes to education and discipline. It is the only way they can learn. The death penalty sounds quite appropriate for these youth. They could have killed dozens through their terroristic acts. I only hope here in the US we will take action to stop and severly punish highway terrorist.

    September 9, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Scared

      You need to look up the definition of Terrorist. You are over using that phrase. There is no political action or protest, no statement they are making, nothing that makes them terrorists. Dangerous maybe, but not terrorists. And this from a teacher, you need to do some learning yourself.

      September 9, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  3. Dak Hampton

    Simply go take the cars back. The fence doesn't look that sturdy. When the government overreaches, it is the duty of the citizen to forcibly react.

    September 9, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Scared

    This is abuse of power. Whats next? If I get a complaint ( not even a ticket ) that my music is too loud, are they going to confiscate my stereo?

    September 9, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      It all depends, is it a high-end stereo with digital display and remote? Then yes!

      September 9, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. gyrogearloose

    No need for them to forfeit the vehicles. The police should simply 'store' them in a convenient location until this is all sorted out. Certain areas of LA, Detroit, Newark and elsewhere come to mind as good choices.

    September 9, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Neeneko

    Well, they could always do what the police do when the seize computers.. sit on them for months then return them as a bag of unusable parts.

    September 9, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. justathought

    LOL I really hate shoveling BS, but before this is over I'm going to have to do some serious clean-up on my monitor. LOL Sure is good to have a laugh after some of the news we have had lately. I can remeber some of the BS sesions we had when I was a teen. Hey! do any of you remember the show, "Top This"?

    September 9, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. chrisM

    Completely ridiculous and a precipice right onto a slippery slope directly towards a police state. The punishment should fit the crime. I agree they were disregarding others, but no one was injured. If they had been, the drivers should pay the consequences for that. Everyone is so quick to pounce and vilify these guys in a mob mentality, but forget that they also have broken certain laws. If I roll my mobile home (just hypothetical I live in a house) onto some public property temporarily while transporting it to a new location, in violation of some law, that gives the state the right to confiscate my home? This is completely analogous to the situtation. I hope the civil liberties union beats the s__t out of them, and something like this needs widespread international focus. But it probably won't get it, because everyone is only concerned with what panties Paris Hilton is wearing this week, while your rights are meanwhile being trampled on.

    September 9, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • toddman

      Hey, let's not gloss over this Paris Hilton's panties thing. Did you hear something?

      September 9, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • PaulD

      Agree completely – this is similar to what goes on in the USA where authorities confiscate property of people accused of drug-relate crimes. Then, whether the person is found guilty or even found innocent, the person then must prove that the property was not obtained with "ill-gotten gains" before the property is released back to them. Many police departments go out of their way to prosecute these types of crimes, specifically because of this "profit motive". It's a practice that flies in the face of the principles of a free country and shouldn't be tolerated.

      September 9, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      When did Paris Hilton start wearing panties?
      Now THAT is news!!!

      September 9, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Phil

    What kind of parent gives the keys to their Maserati to their teen age kid?

    September 9, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      A rich one?

      September 9, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JIm

    Disassemble them in search of drugs and illegal modifications, and return them in container, just like Neeneko offered.

    September 9, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. S

    If it were simply speeding I would definitely say no. However, they were racing which is significantly more dangerous to the public so perhaps they should lose their cars. Perhaps they should also be charged with attempted murder for every innocent person they even came close to!

    September 9, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. crashandburn

    I say that they give the cars back but suspend their drivers license instead. To me it would be worse to still have it but not be able to "legally" drive it.

    September 9, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. justathought

    @8th grade teacher: Are you sure you are even an 8th grader?

    September 9, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Bubba

    Canadians are idiots anywase, I feel bad for the people trying to insult the us on here.

    September 9, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • canuck

      Bubba, "anywase" ? at least Canadians can spell

      September 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. canadian

    British columbia is a province not a state

    September 9, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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