The FBI as Common Thieves

From Now They’ve Crossed the Line, by Jeffery Tucker

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In Beverly Hills, California, there is a private service that provides lockboxes for people’s valuables. It is called U.S. Private Vaults. It seems more promising, to some degree, than a box at a bank, where the government has a long history of breaking in.

There was never any particular reason to think that the company could not keep its promises. Many people did trust this company with vast amounts of personal wealth. However, being a private company provides no real protection when the government has an agenda.

After all, we learned over the last 20 months that there is nothing that limits governments’ rights to have their way with private business. They can break in, shut them down, keep them closed, bankrupt them, and there is very little that can be done to stop it.

Six months ago, the FBI raided this company, broke into 800 different boxes by force and took all the contents. They claimed this was justified because they had probable cause that the box contents were gained from illicit activity. They have yet to prove that, however.

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

The company’s website has posted a notice. It now has a notice:

“PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT LEGAL COUNSEL JUST RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING NOTICE OF FORFEITURE. THE U.S. GOVERNMENT IS SEEKING TO FORFEIT AND ASSUME OWNERSHIP OF THE CONTENTS OF ALL PRIVATELY HELD VAULTS ON THE PREMISES OF U.S. PRIVATE VAULTS, WHICH IS NOW CLOSED.”

You would think this would be national news, but instead the event got no attention. The total loot: $86 million. It included cash, coins, and jewelry. The Feds want to keep it all.

But here is another fascinating thing. That $86 million figure is what the Feds said, but look at the actual items listed in the boxes. It seems like the agents became lazy at some point and started marking everything as having the value of one dollar.

Here is just one example from one box. It had a Cartier bracelet with diamond, a Cartier bracelet “nail shape,” a diamond tennis bracelet, an 18” gold necklace, a two-tone Rolex men’s watch, another Rolex with gold and diamonds and a platinum Rolex.

Each item was valued at $1. It was the same with a tremendous amount of the gold and platinum coins that were taken. Again, each was valued at $1.

I’ve not added it all up, but we are certainly talking about a lot more than $86 million. It seems safe to add a zero to this figure. We are looking at the property of many serious people who trusted this company could keep their stuff protected and safe. Now it is all in government hands.

The owners have to beg to get it back and must prove that it is all licit.

Among those pillaged was Joseph Ruiz, an unemployed chef. He had $57,000 in cash inside his box. He had to sue to get it back. The government claimed that he made that money by running an unlicensed pot business. They further claimed that dogs had sniffed out drugs on his cash.

Ruiz produced evidence that this was not true. The FBI returned his money, without apologizing or admitting error. He told the Los Angeles Times that this was “a bank heist in broad daylight.”

They have kept everyone else’s money. Six months have gone by. Some 300 of the victims are fighting for their rights in court. The rest of the 500 or so clients have probably just given up doing anything about it.

[…]

There is no safe way out for anyone or anything when civilization is headed to destruction. No person is safe. No property is safe. You are better off knowing that than not.

It pays to be alert and careful, knowing full well that we are living with a system of government that has become highly dangerous to everything and everyone we hold dear.

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Living in a fascist culture, where your life and your property can be taken away without any due process whatsover by the secret police, is a bitter thing.

Regardless of what the conservatives or progressives think, we can do better than this.

We can start by revoking the “asset forfeiture” laws, and revoke the Patriot Act as well.

Getting rid of the perverts at the airport is also a step in the right direction.

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