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Highway robbery

Authorities in Utah Seized Nearly $3 Million in Cash and Assets From Citizens Last Year

In one case highlighted by the Salt Lake Tribune, cops seized cars and other property—including "a $25 flashlight…a $4,000 mountain bike, a $2,500 motorcycle and a guitar autographed by Led Zeppelin worth $3,000"— and charged several people after a methamphetamine bust, prosecutors say.

Cops like to publicize such busts because it feeds a narrative that asset forfeiture is used primarily against big-time drug dealers. But they're rather out of the ordinary, the report shows.

Most forfeitures (69 percent) take place during traffic stops and most of the time only money is seized. According to the state report, cash was taken in 99 percent of forfeitures during 2016, with the median seizure amounting to only $1,031.

That means, in many cases, the amount seized was considerably less than four-figures. In one instance, the report shows, police took $16 from a motorist.
     — Eric Boehm

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