The Economist has a piece here about civil forfeiture, a process that police use to seize cars, homes and other property that was reportedly used in a crime. The magazine argues that protections against abuse are practically nonexistent:
But the safeguards are slender. For instance, police can find a wad of cash in a car, claim that the owner was planning to buy drugs with it, and then seize it. The evidence may be simply that a dog smelled drugs; yet one test found that a third of banknotes have traces of cocaine on them.
Supporters, though, say abuse isn't common. And they argue that civil forfeiture is a useful tool for police because it lets them hit criminals financially and take away their resources.