It is a classic trap. Individual cops fall into it, and so do whole police departments. It’s drug money, so it isn’t real. The drug dealers don’t deserve to have it, so taking it isn’t really stealing. No one knows who the money originally belonged to, so it is free money. Like air, breathed without thought. Or like wild game, belonging to no one and free for the taking.
There is enough truth to the proposition to make it compelling and plausible. But if the money is not genuinely the property of the drug dealer, then what about the things he buys with that money. Like the BMW I hid behind. I could take the money, why not the car? Or the house?
Of course, I couldn’t. But by some new and morally questionable laws, the state of California could, and did.
If there was a drug bust, and half a million in drugs were recovered, the police eventually have to destroy the drugs. But if half a million in money from drug sales is recovered, they get to keep it. Or if a drug dealer is driving a new car and living in a new house, and the police can make a half way plausible case that they were bought with drug money, they can seize them and sell them. And keep the money.
Joe Citizen wants drugs off the street, but he doesn’t want to pay for more police. No problem. Need a new police car? Catch a few drug dealers and take their houses. Seize and sell. Whole drug enforcement units are financed by confiscation. Never mind what it does to the cops when they know that it doesn’t matter how much drugs they get off the street. It only matters how many airplanes and mansions and BMWs they can confiscate.
Maybe the boy had done me a favor by removing the money before I had a chance to take it. I know that if he had come by ten minutes later, that money would be in my bank account right now. Maybe I was glad he had saved me from making a mistake.
* * *
Some people become addicted to burglary. They get off on the adrenaline rush. Not me. I didn’t like it a bit, but that afternoon I did it again.
William Johnson’s house was easy. He had left a back window open. I went through his house more quickly than I had Davis’. He was further out of the loop, and I had less time. Bedroom, garage with workshop, a spare bedroom set up with a small but elaborate model train layout, kitchen, and a scuttle hole to storage in the attic; none of them held anything of interest. But in a corner of the living room was a battered desk surrounded by a spill of books, with a computer on top and a file cabinet off to one side.
Meat! more tomorrow