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. Adam

    Theft, pure and simple.

    September 9, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. What r u talking aboot

    Wait, they're in Canada right? Aren't the wheels square up there?

    September 9, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. FoolKiller

    Speeding and street racing are VASTLY different things. Hopefully the police realize this, even if it is too difficult for CNN (what isn't?).

    September 9, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jamison

    There wasnt enough evidence to pursue criminal charges yet your gonna seize their cars, there is something wrong with that

    September 9, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Blake

    As for the comment about million dollar fines for jaywalking, there's a big difference between jaywalking and driving your car at 120mph into another vehicle or a pedestrian. Jaywalking might get YOU killed. Street racing gets OTHER people killed.

    So if you want to kill yourself, go jaywalk. But if you're trying to kill someone else, or acting with disregard for the safety of others, you get dinged.

    September 9, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denita

      They are not comparing the two crimes; they are comparing the severity of the punishment. I agree that street racing is dangerous and should be prosecuted, etc. However, if they are trying to make a statement why not take cars of drunk drivers? Far more people are killed by drunks than by street racers so why are they trying to make a statement here. Also, isn't it interesting that they don't have enough evidence to charge anybody with a crime, but they are going to take their cars?

      September 9, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • jamest

      well put Blake!!!

      September 9, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • TRex2828

      From what I read, no one was hurt. The authorities didn't even see them. They are going by eyewitnesses. Did they have radar guns? So, you're saying it's ok to punish them because of what "might" have happened? So do I get my insurance payments back if nothing happens? It is to protect against something that "might" happen, right?

      Give them a healthy fine, humble them with community service and suspend their licenses. Keeping their cars makes no sense. If they have that kind of money to own them in the first place, they'll just go get another. Or will you prohibit them from buying any car that will go over 60mph? Not even in China!!

      September 9, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jealous Much

      Wong. Jaywalking can kill others, not just the jaywalker... what if i swerve my car to not hit a pedestrian and kill someone else? It's no different.

      September 9, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Benny

      Ok Blake. Remember that when you are doing 75 in a 55 and they decide that 20mph over is the same as twice the limit, then they sieze your Honda. Think you can afford another such auto when they STEAL the one you are currently driving?
      I don't agree with street racing, but what you propose is the same as theft. Wake up before fools like you allow the governments of this world to take ALL our liberties. It's bad enough that the state has rights to fine you for a SUGGESTED Speed Limit. You want to allow them to steal your car too?

      September 9, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Slugbait

      When it comes to driving, the deadliest wild animal on the road is deer...not because you hit it and it goes thru your windshield or whatever, but because you do the dumb thing and swerve to miss it. The deer lived, and you almost killed a tree (but the tree was a lot stronger than your car) or you hit another car, or...

      Now apply this to jaywalking: someone swerves to miss you, and ends up injuring or killing themselves smashing into a car or lightpost, or hits another non-jaywalking pedestrian.

      September 9, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MikeM

    @RICH: I think you got that backwards... When you replace the Spirit of the Law with the Law – Justice is certainly doomed.

    September 9, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. WheredidIgowrong

    Isn't it interesting the government grants the big companies rights to make these cars go over 200 mph but yet it makes laws so you can't drive that fast. What good is a car that goes 300 mph when there is no place on the planet except on a race track you are able to drive it which is not what its intended for.

    September 9, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason L.

      As a citizen of the US, I may be a bit off here, but the government does not "grant" the right to automakers to make cars with a certain top speed. Government can not give you rights, it can only restrict them, that's why you a citizen and not a vassal. The question is, should the citizens of Canada decide that THEIR government require restrictions on the the top speed of cars for public safety. The government belongs to you, not vice versa

      September 9, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • TDiddy

      You are just such a moron I don't know where to begin!

      September 9, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denita

      None of these cars are capable of going oveer 300 mph, which is not the point anyway. Pretty much every car on the road has the ability to exceed the speed limit so are you suggesting the govt. require all cars be electronically limited to 75mph? If by some twist of fate I were able to buy one of these cars, there is a track not far from my home where I can pay a fee and go drive; they are all over the place. If you own one there are plenty of options other than the public streets to drive them the way they are meant to be driven.

      September 9, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason L.

      Just thought I'd mention, I do not think the government should be in the business of restricting car speeds, but I think the more dangerous trend is people expecting the government to "take care of them" so that is what I primarily responded to. I was rephrasing the initial posters question in a way I hoped would bring attention to the fact that they are a member of society with rights, responsibilities and the ability to initiate change. Even if I think their ideas are bad, I want them considering action rather than being dependent on government. As long as it is the general public leading policy and not just people letting the government decide what is best for them there is hope.

      September 9, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason L.

      You can reason with a person, governments only understand force, whether it be political, economic, or military

      September 9, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • WheredidIgowrong

      PLEASE! Name one country where the government does not run the country. The fact that we the people vote them in office that's all that matters. When they get in office you HOPE and WISH they follow your voice but it goes no def ears. There is no WE the PEOPLE. Did we the people want to go to war with the entire world, NO. Did we the people want to owe trillions of dollars in spending NO. You think you're in control but the government body decides whatever the heck they want. So vote on. And yes, the government should restrict some nut case driving 200 mph down the highway and every car with some device. A car can crash at such speed and send twice as many innocent people to their deaths. Same with guns, why in the name of God with someone need to own an AK 47. You can have rights but when it affects the overall of society safety, it becomes a problem and 150 – 200 mph IS a problem!!!!

      September 9, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason L.

      Anyone who can afford a car that can go 200 mph can afford to have any restricting device on it removed. The only people who will be affected in the end is the average citizen, and while it may be reasonably argued that cars not be capable of extreme speeds, once a speed control system is in place, which would by nature be a federal affair.,interest groups will take advantage of it. Between insurance companies and enviromentalists we'd all be limited to 50 mph by the end of it.

      September 9, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason L.

      The government runs the country, that is it's purpose, to maintain the safety of citizens that it, the government answers to. That is the ideal, and I agree it is not the reality, and never was. But read tocqueville, and you will see we were once far closer than we are today. Just because things are not going as they should is no reason to just give up and encourage the government to go ahead and impose more regulation that really doesnt deal with the problem but expands government power. Laws only really effect those who don't have an interest in breaking them, those determined to abuse the system, the real threats, are not stopped.

      September 9, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Carmen

    The spawn of rich people acting in an irresponsible manner that posed a danger to the public??? Say it aint so!

    September 9, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. fergodsake

    Good on em. Incidentally CNN, British Columbia is a province, not a state......

    September 9, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joe

    Since when is British Columbia a 'state'??

    September 9, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bus2

    Sorry, but the government can't just go around confiscating people's property just because they feel like it. Let the legal system do its job.

    September 9, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      Really Bus2? Hate to break it to you but the "legal system" includes the civil system, not just criminal. This is the "legal system" at work. Just differently than what some are used to seeing.

      September 9, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. gordon atl

    This would set a dangerous precedent.

    September 9, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sparky

    These cars will never get seized – if these todlers parents can put them in those kind of cars then they can surely afford the representation needed to ensure they leave with nothing more then a slap on the wrist.

    September 9, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Racer X

    How could the State possibly proceed civilly as they intend to? If you are speeding, you pay a ticket which has a "tab" based on the velocity in excess of the limit. I don't know the particular law and/or formula for the county in which the infraction took place, but let's say for the sake of argument that the speed limit was 100kph, the "base" is $100, and for every kph in excess, $5. At 200kph, that's a $600 ticket, hardly the price of one of those jalopies. You really have to jack up the base and the excess per kph to even come close to the car's price.

    This is just baloney. If you want to make a point, forfeit the license for a year or so, and make them take driver's ed when done.

    September 9, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Stif

    Governments will always try to extend the limits placed upon its powers over its people. It's a historic fact.

    September 9, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
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