Municipal budget cuts are so bad in some parts of the country that police are resorting to illegal means to raise money, like seizing cars that belong to people who haven't done anything wrong.
This situation is especially bad in Michigan, where job layoffs and a depressed housing market have curtailed government revenues.
"Police departments right now are looking for ways to generate revenue, and forfeiture is a way to offset the costs of doing business," police Sergeant Dave Schreiner told the Detroit News.
"You'll find that departments are doing more forfeitures than they used to because they've got to — they're running out of money and they've got to find it somewhere."
Money raised by Metro Detroit agencies has jumped 50 percent in the past five years, to at least $20.62 million, as local law enforcement agencies raise millions of dollars by seizing private property suspected in crimes.
Often this is done without any charges being filed, and sometimes even when authorities admit no offense was committed.
"It's like legalized stealing," said Jacque Sutton, a 21-year-old college student from Mount Clemens whose 1989 Mustang was seized by Detroit police raiding a party.
Charges against him and more than 100 others were dropped, but he still paid more than $1,000 to get the car back.
"According to the law, I did nothing wrong, but they're allowed to take my property anyway,” Sutton says. “It doesn't make sense."
Municipal budget woes are giving muni bonds investors pause as well, especially as firms offering bond insurance designed to help states and cities reduce borrowing costs falter and fail, The Wall Street Journal reports.
In the past, seven firms carried the top credit rating of triple-A, and half of new municipal bonds were insured.
Now, barely 10 percent of new muni bonds have insurance.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.