STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
How a Dog Named Brutus Was Used to Steal $36,000
By Garrett Kehr - August 05, 2017

For the egregious crime of being in the right lane at the wrong time, a driver was pulled over in Lowndes County, Georgia. Thanks to the heroic efforts of one Georgia State Police dog, and his faithful officer, a major threat to the people of Georgia is off the streets.

The responding police dog, Brutus, made a major bust. The vehicle was transporting $36,000 of cash; an imminent danger to Georgians across the state.

The cash may have eluded officers if not for the quick thinking of Brutus. He sat down next to the car to let officers know the money was being stored in a speaker inside the vehicle. The officer was quick to confiscate the cash, take a picture of it for social media, and let the driver go.

Wait, the police let the driver get away? Yes, they did. The driver was not charged an actual crime, and no one was arrested during the “major bust” that took place. The driver’s only crime was carrying cash.

Under Georgia’s criminal code officers can take property from any citizen they suspect may be part of a criminal enterprise. In this case, the only hunch officers had of criminal activity was Brutus the dog taking a seat.

The police took more than half of the state’s median yearly income from someone because a dog sat next to their car. If you think this is a horrific injustice, you should feel relieved to know the overwhelming majority of Americans agree with you.

Civil asset forfeiture is the formal name for this form of state sanctioned theft. It has become a hot topic in the last few years for Americans concerned about their fundamental rights. The practice is troublingly common among law enforcement agencies at all levels of government.

Its history of abuse has resulted in BILLIONS of dollars taken from Americans who were never charged with a crime. While marginalized groups are the most likely victims, anyone can be targeted. From entrepreneurs and small business owners to Christian music groups, law enforcement agencies only see dollar signs.

A growing number of states have implemented forfeiture reforms aimed at holding police agencies accountable. They aim to protect citizen’s right to due process supposedly guaranteed by the Constitution. Unfortunately for this driver, and the rest of the country, state laws may soon be futile. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced a federal policy to ignore state statutes prohibiting civil asset forfeiture.

To be clear, the Attorney General is the top official appointed to keep the rule of law alive in America. Instead, he is encouraging law enforcement agencies to seize property from law-abiding citizens. We’re supposed to be assumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Sessions’ reversal of justice reform raises serious civil rights concerns.

The government can take your money simply because a dog gets tired of standing. But you may find it a relief that some elected officials are making it a priority to end this archaic and evil practice once and for all. States may lead the way, but Jeff Sessions’ actions make it clear that there needs to be real reform at the federal level.

In reality, impactful reforms are nowhere near the horizon. If you are concerned with protecting your assets from government seizures you are best taking matters into your own hands. Of course, the state doesn’t make that easy.

Officials have gone out of their way to ensure any legal protections you thought you had go out the window when stopped by police on the road. As the example in Georgia shows, the victim looked to store his money in a speaker system to keep it out of plain sight. But Brutus made short work of that tactic.

Others have gone further by making alterations to the interior of their vehicles. But in a case that went to the Supreme Court, the state gave itself the right to physically tear your car apart in search of anything valuable (Carroll v. United States U.S. 132, 1925). The state also deemed it appropriate for officers to search any containers, including locked safes, inside a stopped vehicle (California v. Acevedo 500 U.S. 565, 1991).

To recap, imagine you are traveling in a vehicle and are pulled over, for even the most minor traffic violation, like looking nervous. Suppose the responding officer can establish probable cause, like having his dog sit. They can then destroy anything inside your car, including the seats. They can take anything they find without charging you with a crime.

What can you do in the face of this draconian action by the state? Digitize your assets.

As the law currently stands going digital is the best way to get around forfeiture. Using decentralized online currencies, you can side step efforts to police for profit.

Luckily officials have not yet devised a way to completely gut the Fifth Amendment. Federal courts have ruled that law enforcement cannot coerce you into revealing passwords to your electronic devices. To keep your wealth safe from state led highway robbery, keep your money online with hefty encryption.

The law allows, and incentivizes, law enforcement agencies to use asset forfeiture. Citizens can live with the fear of their money being taken on a whim. Or, individuals can stand up, en masse, to challenge this egregious and open aggression against innocent citizens.

Until then, the best bet to keep the greedy hands of government out of your pockets is to seek refuge in blockchain technology. If you need to move lots of cash, digitize your wealth.

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Posted in STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
  • FalconMoose

    CAF is another in a litany of immoral acts performed by Governments in general, and the US in particular.
    Serfdom.

  • Dimitri Ledkovsky

    Lousy option for people like myself who still haven’t, after assiduous effort, come to an understanding of what makes “blockchain technology” safe from hacking. Rather than digitize I’m afraid that many Americans will start protecting their assets though ownership and carry of Smith & Wesson or equal. Dealing with hoodlums the hoodlum way will become standard practice in short order.

  • AmericanGold

    Unlawful search and seizure … how does President Trump justify this?!

    • autonomous

      As long as police target poor people and do not stop and search billionaires, Trump and his kind don’t see any reason to need to justify the police state. They are the police state.

      • AmericanGold

        It is hard to imagine that stopping and searching billionaires would provide a remedy, autonomous. President Trump and “his kind” undoubtedly comprise the greater number of we stalwart Americans. Your dog went barking up the wrong tree. This is about a bad law.

  • Goldcoaster

    I cannot agree with digital. hell the government wants it all digital so they can track it easier. and charge you negative interest rates when they see fit.
    there has to be a better way.

    • Heywood Jablome

      And lets not forget that if it is digital, then control can be seized without your consent for any violation which the state deems, such as not paying a parking ticket, or disagreeing with a political stance and talking about it, thats the reason they are pushing everyone to get out of cash, because it is not as easily controlled. Civil asset forfeiture is just a polite statist way of saying armed robbery, the kleptocrats have to be confronted….and soon….

  • autonomous

    To date, digital currency is a fraction of a percentage point. If and when it becomes more significant, the state will find a way to pilfer it. Besides it being relatively insignificant, it is incomprehensible to most people and therefore unlikely to achieve widespread adoption.

  • Praetor

    Of course, they have passed laws that nullify the Constitution. They are the criminals. Read a follow-up story the people in the car said they didn’t know money was in the speaker and had no idea how it got there.

    Ok. Here is a true story, I bought a car from a friend of my son. We had to drive 6 hour to get the car, half way back home, we get a phone call. Hey I left my speaker in the trunk, I pull over look in the trunk and by gawd there is this hugh speaker in the trunk half the size of the trunk. I had asked him if all his stuff was out of the car, he said yes. Kids. There is more to every story.

    Nullifying the Constitution is a crime.!!!

  • Samarami

    I submit to y’all that the problem is not the driver of the vehicle (obviously “rightful” owner of the 36,000 “cash” — if that’s what you guys are calling federal reserve notes nowadays). And the problem is not the dangerously armed individual in a costume, referred to as “policeman”, located in that part of the world you’re calling “Georgia”. Nor is the problem Brutus.
    The problem, my friends, is belief. The religious belief in a phenomenon we call “authority” (also known as “government”, “Our-Great-Nation”, “My-Country” et al.)
    You can read all about it if you’re truly interested. Or, you can continue to whine and weep over phenomena such as “asset forfeiture”, etc etc., which will be with us as long as a critical mass of folks practice the religion, or belief, to which I refer.
    But you’ll need to spend a minute or two “googling”, since I’m at the government (“public” ha ha) library and don’t have the link with me. Google “The Most Dangerous Superstition”, by Larken Rose. It’s free online; but you can also buy Larken’s book.
    Then invest a few hours getting appraised of the real problem.
    Sam

    • Praetor

      I would never name a dog Brutus. So, true Sam.!!!

    • Kim Chul Soo

      Thanks for the heads up. I have it downloaded.

  • saruna2017

    When you have the rule of law possession is 9 points of ownership. Today we have piracy – not unusual as history shows us that the spoils of war and threat is the way to get rich quick – and probably lose it just as quick. Civil society is in decline when rule of law and moral considerations go out the window.
    Get ready for the new dark ages because our carefully structured environments are disintegrating, that includes our natural environment and our civilization.

  • There is a LOT more to this story than the author lets on.

    • Mstrjack

      The facts of the incident speak for themselves. What more is there to know than the driver was assumed guilty of a crime without being formally charged? It is complete violation of natural rights. Police today are nothing more than highway robbers to pay for their pensions.

  • CatherineAustinFitts
    • Loulou

      Yes their is an idiot like you.

      • CatherineAustinFitts

        FYI – Correct spelling is “there”

        Actually, I have a very deep history and understanding of asset forfeiture: http://dillonreadandco.inc

        You will learn a lot.

        • Loulou

          Sorry that comment was NOT directed at you but to Kim Chul Soo, I was unable to remove it, sorry again. Now it is GONE.

          • CatherineAustinFitts

            🙂

  • Kim Chul Soo

    There has to be more to this story.

    • Loulou

      Yes their is an Idiot like you.

  • Spanky Lee

    Civil asset forfeiture is so unfair and so violates our concept of American Law that people, when they first encounter it, refuse to believe it. “There must be more to this story” they say.
    Well, there is background. Civil asset forfeiture involves civil action (A lawsuit is also a civil action) and not a criminal one. And while most civil actions are between two parties, often two people, civil asset forfeiture is an action by the government against PROPERTY–specifically property that may be related to a criminal act. Essentially, they are throwing your money (not your person) in “jail”. All they need to do this is suspect that the asset is related to a crime. Hotel owners have had their properties seized because of a suspicion that guests of the hotel may have sold drugs out of a hotel room for example. You, the hotel owner, might be perfectly innocent—even ignorant and innocent—it matters not. Your property can be seized.
    Can you recover your property? In theory, you can file a lawsuit. Many people do. But there is no guarantee that you will prevail and even if you do, you will have likely spent a lot of money just recovering what was taken from you.
    Police departments love civil asset forfeiture. So do police officers who often get bonuses for them.
    But is any of this fair? Does it work? Has it helped win the war on drugs?
    What do you think?

  • Citizen_Jane
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