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2/26/2006
UK: Police Target Expensive Cars for Seizure
Too Much Bling, Give Us a Ring campaign in Leicestershire, UK targets expensive cars for confiscation.

Too Much Bling
Leicestershire, UK police want to increase the amount of cash and cars the force confiscates with a new campaign entitled, "Too much bling? Give us a ring." The program asks the public to call an anonymous Crimestoppers hotline to inform on anyone seen driving a "fancy" car and wearing designer clothing. The Proceeds of Crime Act then gives police the power to seize the automobiles, cash and other properties from those accused of criminal activity. The force is looking to add to the £ 2.2 million (US $3.8 million) it has seized to date under the act.

"If there's someone in your neighborhood driving a fancy car, wearing designer clothes and flashing their cash and you think they might be a criminal, we want you to call and tell us," explained Detective Sergeant Mick Beattie, of the force's Economic Crime Unit.

The 2002 seizure law bypasses the traditional protections for the accused offered by criminal court proceedings. If those charged under the act cannot prove their own innocence in court, police can keep approximately half of the goods seized with the remainder distributed to the Home Office through the government's Asset Recovery Agency.

"The Court of Appeal has held that civil recovery proceedings are not criminal proceedings," the Asset Recovery Agency website explains. "No person is charged with an offence. The Agency is acting against assets and not individuals, therefore, if the Agency is successful in its proceedings, there is no conviction, no sentence and no criminal record."

"Once there is enough evidence pointing to the cash or property being the proceeds of crime, the burden can be on the accused to explain where it has come from - which can be a difficult thing to do," Beattie said.

Police have already acquired high-end automobiles from manufacturers such as BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes and Porsche under the confiscation program.



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