8/13/2009Australia: Car Seizure Law Used to Take Bike from Little Girl
Little girl in Victoria, Australia has her mini motorbike seized by local police under anti-hoon laws.
Police in Frankston, Australia used automobile seizure laws this weekend to impound a toy motorcycle belonging to a little girl. While under her father's supervision, Laney Frankland, 5, had been riding in circles around a reserve near the end of a neighborhood cul-de-sac on a 49cc motorbike. Police arrived on the scene late in the afternoon to tell the little girl that she was not supposed to be riding in that location. The officers then summoned a tow truck to take away her bike. The girl ran to her mother.
"I thought she had hurt herself," Tracey Frankland explained in an interview with 3AW Radio. "She came back and she was hysterical. Her face was bright red and tears were pouring down her face. Now she thinks the police are bad."
Laney Frankland has been riding toy motorbikes since she was two years old. Her parents gave her the new 49cc model just six months ago. Tracey Frankland explained to 3AW that this seized bike was worth $400 but that police would only return it six months from now if an immediate payment of $550 was made.
Police in the state of Victoria have used so-called "hoon" laws to generate more than $3 million in revenue from such payments. These statutes give police the sole discretion to impound any vehicle an officer believes has been used in an anti-social manner. There is no appeal once the car is seized.
"The new legislation allows police to immediately take hoons off our roads, making them safer for everyone," Victoria Police Superintendent Peter Billing said in a statement after the anti-hoon law took effect in 2006.
Frankston has been at the forefront of seizures, going so far as to set up a toll-free hotline to allow anyone to call in and arrange for police to confiscate a vehicle. State law even allows seizures based on hearsay evidence. Tracey Frankland does not believe that her daughter was turned in by a neighbor as the bike did not cause any disturbance and she has never heard any complaints.
"It's not noisy at all," Tracey Frankland said. "People think it's gorgeous."