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.”

[cnn-video url="http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/crime/2011/09/09/dnt-canada-street-racing.ctv-network"%5D

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. Mountain Man

    @RUFFNUTT. Share some of your cop beat-down stories, so I don't look so rare. Share a couple of yours, then I'll share another one of mine. Deal?

    September 9, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Northof39

    Yeah, don't go to big bad ole Canada or they will pick on your American licence plate & try to make you a socialist!! What I see here is the ignorant trying to use keyboards & equally ignorant people trying to read. Ha ha ha ha ha.

    September 9, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • TIM

      America is well on it's way to becoming a Socialist country. We are already approaching being Fashist.

      September 9, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • pugh7755

      So, how did you know what people are typing if you didn't read this yourself and how did you leave a comment without typing? I guess that makes you the biggest idiot for leaving a stupid comment about other people's intelligence.

      September 9, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bob

    In Ontario Canada, exceeding the speed limit by 50 km/hr will cost you 6 months of suspension, possible jail time, up to a $10,000 fine AND immediate roadside seizure of your car(that means it's gone) Their street racing problem is way down. For $50 you can race your car at many racetracks on idiot night in both Canada and the US. Seems a lot cheaper, safer and legal.

    September 9, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tek

    BC is stealing cars. Plain and simple. If these were all suped up hondas, they would not care less.

    September 9, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • TIM

      They are trying to make an example out of them! Just because you are rich, doesn't mean you are exempt from the law. If they were suped-up hondas, BC would be able to persue a course of action without worrying about their rich mommy & daddy bailing them out.

      September 9, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. TIM

    The article stated they didn't have enough evidencefor a criminial trial but do have enough for a cival trial. That means that they have evidence, just not solid enough to spend the money on a criminal trial just for the rich kids to get off. If there law allows them to take the cars if found guilty in their civil trials, then so be it. They should be made examples of. These spoiled rich kids will never learn their lesson otherwise. And I don't know how you can compare this to a million dollar jaywalking ticket. The only person who is danger is the person jaywalking and that's only if they are dumb enough not to look both ways before crossing. A spoiled rich kid driving a high performance car at speeds well over 100mph definitely has the potential to kill people. I say it's about time rich people have to face the consequences of their actions instead of being able to buy their way out of it.

    September 9, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Apparently the Canadians are taking a page from the American playbook and looking to make a profit above reasonable enforcement of the law. One has to wonder if they'd be pursuing this if riced-out 93 Hondas were involved.

      September 9, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • rkay

      TIM, your logic is flawed. If a jaywalker is only risking their own life, then a car racer without passengers on an empty highway is only risking their own, or that of other consenting racer adults.

      September 9, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom Foolery

      You hit the nail on the head, Bill. I'm not sure about Canadian law, but at least under American law, bs like this should have stopped long ago. Why should someone committing the exact same offense in a $1500 car be punished one five-hundredth as much as someone in a $750000 car? It's blatantly unjust, and a very obvious shakedown. Just give me the money, and by the way, PLEASE do this again so we can take even more money from you.

      September 9, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mihalyim

      Except they were not on an empty highway but a highway in suburban Vancouver where you have no idea when or at what exit someone may get on the highway endangering that driver as well. Not to mention what ever they may hit if they leave the road way at such high speeds.. Jay walking also puts the driver of vehicles at risk since they may loose control of the vehicle after striking you and then hit someone else.

      September 9, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      @ Tom Foolery

      If you're saying that all punishment should be equal then you have to make it a percentage of income not a flat dollar amount. You can't tell me that a $500 fine for someone driving around in a "riced out civic" would equal the same punishment as a $500 fine for someone racing around in a Ferrari. I agree that this is not how things would have been handled if they had been dealing with much cheaper cars, but I think the pain involved to those who got caught is significant enough to hopefully make a difference.

      September 9, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marshall

      What about an inattentive driver in an SUV? At least the racer is trying to drive, while the SUV driver is trying to talk on the phone. Should someone's SUV be taken if they get caught talking on the phone where it's not allowed?

      I think this is just a property grab. The police think that they can wrestle these nice cars from people so they're going to try. If they were junky cars they wouldn't be trying it.

      September 9, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sunflower

    I'm sure the subsequent auction of said vehicles would occur at the annual "Policeman's Ball" or Mounted Police ball as one would have it..... All to raise money for the department..... NIce.......

    September 9, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rick

    Only 5 of the drivers had full licenses. All the others except one had 'N' for novice on their licenses (graduated system) and one person didn't have a license to drive in Canada. All of them are under 21 which raises all kinds of questions about where the money to buy these cars came from. They were using two cars to hold up traffic on a public road so that two more cars in front of them could race down the road unobstructed. What is galling about they way the police and the prosecutors are dealing with this isn't that they're seeking to seize 5 vehicles, but rather that the fine handed out is not only an insult when compared to the offense but also offensive in light of the presumed wealth of these kids. $196 is pocket change to them; nobody in their right mind thinks that such a fine would deter them from repeating their actions. Clearly there are those in the justice system who feel the same, hence the novel efforts to seize the vehicles. As parents we (ought to) take toys away from our kids when they mistreat or misuse them. Since the mommies and daddies of these brats aren't likely to take their race cars away, it's up to the state to do so. I don't care what they were driving, frankly; if they were doing the same thing in Camrys and Accords. Their actions betray a total disregard for property, for safety and for the welfare of others. Take their toys away from them. Period.

    September 9, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      Rick, your logic is completely flawed. While I agree what they did was dangerous and no kids have any business behind the wheel of supercars, they weren't caught. The fact they got tickets based on a 'he said she said' basis is troubling in the least. This very much sets the precedent that next time I see you driving down the street, I'm going to call the police and say you were driving 100 in a 30. Is it fair to ticket you for that? Oh wait, you probably dont drive a Lambo, so the Police probably wouldn' care...

      September 9, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      @Jon

      Isn't their guilt or innocence up to the courts to decide? $200 is about what you would pay for a day or two at the race tracks which is where these kids ought to be. The fine alone means NOTHING to them; take away their cars and now you've got their attention. Still requires proof though, and with this stuff commonly being filmed for posterity and bragging on the internets we might get lucky.

      September 9, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joeydds

      Rick I think you are right! Their actions could kill themselves and others and I think they need a clear msg otherwise that crap will keep happening. And really its a good kick to the junk who allow their kids to drive those cars and act irresponsibly

      September 9, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tony

    The problem is, if they can take your car, they can take your house, your land, or anything else. It isnt a far stretch to see this as a precedent.

    September 9, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mihalyim

      Except you are using the vehicle to grossly violate the law. If you are using your house to produce drugs then at least in the US they may take it.

      September 9, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marshall

      Mihalyim, you claim that they were speeding and were guilty of breaking the law, but according to the law they were not. The police even said that they don't have enough evidence to convict these people of breaking the law. If you can't prove that someone committed a crime in a court of law, then they weren't guilty of any crime.

      The police are trying to skirt legal protections built into Canada's court system issue and punish these people in some other way.

      September 9, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joeydds

      Mihalyim is right they totally broke the law and people testified to it. But in criminal court they need more evidence than that. I think the punishment is fair.

      September 9, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • tmckee

      The US tax man can take away your property now!

      September 9, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Guy with a ride

    Yes Yes Yes! Punishment, get them they're the ones. This solves nothing. Others will do it. They are kids. So instead of crucifying them. The real solution to this problem is: why do we not have private companies setting up race tracks for this behavior. Make tracks where it is legal to race or have fun and keep it off the streets. I mean what is a Lamborghini for!? LOL. When something like this is set up in every major city in north America, those who are still doing this on city streets then should have their cars crushed and licenses taken away FOREVER! But if there is no-where to discover a real sports car for fun, than this will keep happening. Imagine how lucrative a business like that could be, hosting friendly races. Keep in mind aggressive behavior and vigilantism still wouldn't be tolerated in such establishments. Just a place to let your animal lose!

    September 9, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • AreWeTherYet

      Right! Don't punish them – ACCOMODATE them. That sends an appropriate message. So will you be the first to vote to decriminalize drunk driving? They can have their own road system – the drunk expressway. Why not? Your logic is flawed. there is no "I didn't know it was illegal" argument here. They were driving at 120 mph – WAY above any speed limit on this continent I've ever heard of. What country doesn't mention the importance of obeying the speed limit on their drivers license test??? It was willful and deliberate disregard for the law and public safety. I've cleaned up after idiots like this wipe out. It makes a heck of a mess, and no matter what they say, innocent people DO get hurt or killed.
      Its no one's job to accomodate these brats – they have the money for Maseratis? Let THEM build the track. But don't endanger lives and property on public highways.

      September 9, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. scottaw

    why bother having one of these cars then?freedom my ass

    September 9, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Driver

    This is absolutely ridiculous they were not caught racing the police were called and were detained and cars impounded after the incidents happened. These young rich kids paid their fine (or parents did) and forked over the money for towing and impounding fees, but because their government sees an opportunity to make money by selling these high dollar supercars they will "be made examples" of. Next time step up patrols and "try to catch them" in the act with the evidence to proceed and I will see nothing wrong with that. Everyone saying that driving that fast has the potential to kill people your right, but so does anyone who gets behind the wheel drunk, tired, not wearing their required glasses or contacts. How about a new argument.

    September 9, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • AreWeTherYet

      Isn't drunk driving illegal where you are? Or driving without your required prescription eyewear if its noted on your license? Aren't seatbelts mandatory in most areas? Oh yeah... that' s called THE LAW. Just like speed limits and reckless driving – THE LAW. Follow it or lose your license, and in extreme situations like this one, your car.
      Let's see what happens if (Heaven forbid) one of these little punks hits and hurts a member of YOUR family. Let's hear what you say about this plan after that.

      September 9, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jeff Frank ( R - Ohio )

    The Royal Canadian Mounted Police? A cop on a horse with a radar gun, in pursuit of cars racing with engines well over 500 horsepower, and you don't see anything wrong with this picture?

    September 9, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marshall

      I really hope that you're joking and aren't really this stupid.

      The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is the name of Canada's national police force. They're not all on horses.

      September 9, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • GTA

      Perhaps, but they're really fast horses. Have you never heard of Northern Dancer....

      September 9, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ray S.

    Loss of your license for some period and normal reasonable fines are justified (a normal speeding ticket is over $196 in most places...) but seizing property for racing is not right IMO.

    How about seizing your $40,000 SUV for cellphone or texting while driving? I believe that has been proven to be more dangerous than drunk driving. Of course that's not right, and neither is seizing property for speeding or racing.

    Fact is the crime doesn't fit with seizing even a $20,000 "normal" car, much less a $100,000+ car. Just because you're jealous of "rich people" and want to stick it to them doesn't make it any more right...

    Perhaps there would be some cause there if this caused an accident and definitely if other drivers were injured in such a crash, but that would involve criminal charges too...

    September 9, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Arlee

    It's called being pro active, when you see a real danger or threat. Too many times something is left until it happens. Here is a case where the people that are suppose to be in charge do something to stop that potential threat. I think a little questioning now will be a lot better than a lot of questioning after there is a death. I would like to know how under 20 year old kids can get cars like that if something illegal wasn't involed. If it is rich parents giving their kids those type of cars and they are drag racing, all the better that they loose their cars.

    September 9, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kenny

    Buy the brats tricycles and make them get a license to ride them. Sell the cars and let mommie and daddy but new ones to be impounded.

    September 9, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
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