After impounding 13 luxury cars that were reportedly street-racing into South Surrey last week, police are hopeful at least some of the vehicles will never be returned to their owners.
“We recommended that all 13 be made subject to civil forfeiture,” RCMP Cpl. Holly Marks confirmed Thursday. “I don’t think that all 13 met the criteria.”
Police announced Thursday afternoon that they had provided details of the Aug. 31 incident to the Federal Integrated Proceeds of Crime Section and, subsequently, to the BC Civil Forfeiture Office, after investigation determined there was not enough evidence to proceed with criminal charges.
The cars – some with novice-driver ‘N’s in their rear windows – had been impounded for seven days, and their drivers fined $196 each, after police fielded numerous calls regarding excessive speed and dangerous driving southbound on Highway 99 at the start of rush hour, around 3 p.m. Aug. 31.
Six of the vehicles were pulled over in South Surrey, the other seven in White Rock. They included a Ferrari, two Maserati Turismos, three Lamborghini Gallardos, an Audi R8, three Nissan GT-Rs, a Mercedes SL63, a Mercedes SLS and an Aston Martin DB9.
The Integrated Proceeds of Crime Section recommended the BC Civil Forfeiture Office assess the case.
Solicitor General Shirley Bond has reportedly said civil claims will be filed against five of the cars.
According to Supt. Norm Gaumont, of Lower Mainland Traffic Services, the recommendation was based upon the following:
• The vehicles were by definition “street racing”;
• The speeds were estimated at 200 km/h on roads designed for 90 km/h;
• The disregard for the motoring public; and
• The potential for catastrophic injury or death.
Established in April 2006, The BC Civil Forfeiture Office – part of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General – assesses RCMP investigations referred by IPOC, and where appropriate, undertakes civil action in B.C. Supreme Court to seek forfeiture of assets or properties that are acquired or used to engage in unlawful activity.
Unlike in a criminal case, the proceedings do not produce a ruling of guilty or not guilty.
Marks said pursuing forfeiture on a non-criminal matter is rare, but not unheard of.
“It’s not something that happens often on a provincial traffic offence, but it has happened,” she said.
Bayview Towing spokesman Cory Rushinko told Peace Arch News only six of the seven cars impounded at his lot will be released. Rushinko said police advised him Wednesday evening that they would be “seizing” one of the Mercedes.
Three of the remaining six cars were picked up by noon Thursday, the earliest around 10:30 a.m.
“The first people I talked to, they were really nervous,” Rushinko said of two who arrived to claim a grey Lamborghini Gallardo. “The media scared them because they chased ’em.”
Another person told Rushinko the media response to the incident “is ridiculous,” he said.