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5/30/2007
Illinois: City to Seize Cars Over Unrelated Crimes
Those accused of offenses not necessarily related to the use of an automobile will have their car seized in Oak Forest, Illinois.

Impounded automobile
Beginning next month, the city of Oak Forest, Illinois will give police the authority to seize the automobile belonging to anyone they accuse of committing an crime, even if it the offense is completely unrelated to the use of an automobile. People arrested for any of 37 different infractions ranging from forgetting your driver's license to vandalism, shoplifting and armed robbery will have their cars seized and held until a bond payment of $500 is made.

If an accused individual is not able to come up with $500 in cash within sixty days, the city will sell the automobile at auction and keep the profits. If the accused has a trial and is found not guilty, the city may return the $500.

In anticipation of the new revenue stream, the city has stepped up its confiscation efforts. In 2005, police impounded 175 vehicles after an arrest. Last year, the figure more than doubled. There were 336 impounds in the eight months from January to August -- meaning a full year's worth of confiscation could generate $250,000. The nearby cities of Chicago Heights, Midlothian, and New Lenox have similarly stepped up efforts by adoption confiscation ordinances.

In one of the few substantial public discussions of the measure on September 12 last year, the only question Oak Forest City Council members raised was whether add another $50 fee for anyone who was not arrested yet still had his car impounded by police. Alderman Gregory Simos asked why the ordinance did not include this fee.

"We can definitely add that," replied Police Chief Dennis Olszewski.



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