Wait... seriously?

I often think the USA is becoming too much of a police state, but then I read stuff like this…


Should have stashed it with the Goblins at Gringotts!

I’m not sure what the problem is - the government figured out where all this stuff was stored, filed the appropriate paperwork, and then seized it all. Lo and behold: tons of illegal stuff right where they predicted.

Oh, I thought they were just randomly raiding safe deposit boxes. Apparently, the safe deposit box company was a suspected front for organized crime. So…not sure what the problem is? They had search warrants.

Nope, no problem at all, no unreasonable search and seizure, nuh uh. The government thought there’d be bad stuff there, and they were right!

Might want to read that…

Well, okay, wait. They said that they suspect that the company was letting criminals sign up “no questions asked”, which is a little different from being a front for organized crime.

They also happen to be a safe deposit box company. That a lot of normal people are paying in order to safely store their stuff.

Did you see the part about how innocent people who “inevitably” had their stuff seized can call a handy toll-free number in order to get it back from the government? Yeah, that is going to work out well.

But furthermore – they are going about this by opening a box, seeing what’s inside, and then saying “can we pin any wrongdoing on the owner of this box based on its contents?” That is the very definition of illegal search in the USA – the country was founded, in part, on the idea that that is bullshit. If a government is allowed to operate this way then the populace becomes harshly oppressed very quickly. Everyone has broken a law sometime.

They are trying to spin this as “pretty much everyone who has a box from this company is a criminal” but … really? If that’s true, why have they reportedly found so little from the 2300 boxes they have opened so far?

The article says they found: “firearm, counterfeit currency, several works of Renaissance art and a substantial amount of high value jewellery” in addition to the gold from the title. Okay, let’s be generous and say that stuff took up 50 of the deposit boxes. Umm, what about the other 2250 they have opened?

The Bush administration has also engaged extensive use of lawyers to ensure they can do all kinds of things. Doesn’t mean it’s actually legal. Or good.

I’m not an expert on UK law, but it seems to me that anything they find that wasn’t on the search warrant would be an improper search and would be thrown out. I can’t imagine that UK law would allow the police to just randomly search boxes and anything they find they can prosecute the owner. If so, UKians might want to work on that, because that’s bullshit.

Are you fucking serious? By that rational, if your landlord is caught with a few dimebags, the cops are free to raid your apartment. This wasn’t some underground supervillian vault that people could only get into if they knew the secret password… this was a legit safe deposit company with owners that happened to be criminals.

Hold up there, tiger…er, bunny.

Based on the OP and the other two stories I Googled up, information on exactly what this company was is thin. I think it’s a tad early to get all Rambo’d up.

Presumably, the press will publish deeper stories later on. One hopes anyway…

From what I’ve read in the articles given, there’s nothing to indicate that police actually think the owners were in collusion with anyone storing stolen goods there.

I suspect that the argument will go exactly like the illegal lotto case (United States vs Santos) that was talked about in the Judge Floro thread last week. When the crooks paid for the safe deposit boxes, they presumably did so with money obtained via illegal means… Therefore the storage company owners are guilty of money laundering. And, in the UK, unlike that case here, it’ll probably stick regardless of whether or not they can prove (or even TRY to prove) that the owners knew that illegal and/or stolen goods were being stored there.

It may not go down like that, but it looks like a familiar situation…

I’m curious to know of the storage agreement has any provisions, such as agreeing not to store contraband, illegally acquired goods, etc.

That’s a matter of contract law, not criminal law, and not relevant.

Actually, the article says that over 90% of the boxes contain illegal goods, that the owners have all been arrested on money laundering charges and that the total stuff they’ve found totals over $1 billion. I don’t know all the details on what the parameters of the search were, or how warrants have to be worded in the UK, but in the US the warrant would only have to specify what was being searched for. Since there’s a limited varieties of stuff that could be in there (any of the renaissance artwork and jewelry is likely tied to specific crimes or assumed legal), I have no reason to believe and the articles give no indication that the warrants are illegal or even particularly abusive.

Stop right there.

Let’s look at the FUCKING ARTICLE as you put it:

Although they do not know how many of the 7,000 boxes are being rented - at around £100-a-year - police suspect up to 90 per cent of them may hold criminal assets.
Well, it’s a good thing that you’re just taking whatever the police suspect at full value.

At this point, I’m going to have to assume you either live in some kind of crazy country where this sort of thing is okay, or you have no fucking clue what you are talking about. I don’t know about the UK, but here in the US, suspicion is not Probable Cause.

But anyway, I await your rebuttal of: “Well, if the renters have nothing to hide, they shouldn’t care! The police will make sure they get their stuff back!”

It’s pretty difficult for me to get worked up about this incident, given the lack of information that could prove the legitimacy or otherwise of the police action. There are much scarier things in the works for the UK, which has devolved from a country that vigorously defended its rights to privacy to one of the worst surveillance states in the world.

Information laws designed to protect the country against terrorism have been used to spy on parents who might be sending their children to schools in the wrong catchment area. Detention rules have been increased to 28 days without trial, and Brown now wants 42 days (Blair wanted 90). ISPs are being pressured to spy on data streams to detect illegal file downloads.

Privacy International currently ranks the UK as a “endemic surveillance society”, along with Russia, China, and, unfortunately, the US.

the storage room company probably has an EULA that makes search and seizure of any items legit (or maybe the items become property of the company and can’t be sold on ebay for cash or something or ur b&)

One could argue that in certain states, the situation is the US is much much worse.

What I’m saying is that you are assuming that the police just opened a bunch of safe deposit boxes with no probable cause, no warrants and started linking the stuff in those boxes to any crimes they have on record. The article does not make this assumption justified - it is simply your paranoia. I brought up the 90% number to show that the police have knowledge of what the storage facility is being used for and this isn’t just some random vault with a few criminals in it - it is a haven specifically for criminals, who apparently make up the vast majority of the clients.

I am definitely not saying, “Well, if the renters have nothing to hide, they shouldn’t care! The police will make sure they get their stuff back!” If the police are doing what you claim they are (just opening boxes to see if a crime has been committed), then I agree it is heavy-handed abuse of state power. I just don’t see any reason to believe, given the description in the article, that that is what’s going on.