Dutch Police Plan to Take Clothes and Watches from People They Deem to be Dressed Too Well

Admittedly this is billed as a pilot plan in Rotterdam, but the hope is to roll out a scheme supposedly to intercept thieves by taking clothes and watches from those the police deem could not have gotten them by legitimate means.

It is not hard to see how ludicrous and bigoted this is. The police are going to be in the business of judging…based on what? Age? Haircut? Skin color? Shoes? Where they happen to be?….that someone is “too poor” to be wearing the clothes they are wearing. And that’s before you get to the fact that even if the police correctly deemed someone to be low income, that they could have a rich relative or rich lover who gave them a nice gift, or they saved money to buy one nice outfit, say for job interviews, or they were smart enough to snag upscale clothes at a big discount at a resale store.

The Independent reported on this scheme and its rationale last week:

Police in the Dutch city of Rotterdam have launched a new pilot programme which will see them confiscating expensive clothing and jewellery from young people if they look too poor to own them.

Officers say the scheme will see them target younger men in designer clothes they seem unlikely to be able to afford legally – if it is not clear how the person paid for it, it will be confiscated.

The idea is to deter criminality by sending a signal that the men will not be able to hang onto their ill-gotten gains.

Rotterdam police chief Frank Paauw told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf: “They are often young men who consider themselves untouchable. We’re going to undress them on the street.

“We regularly take a Rolex from a suspect. Clothes rarely. And that is especially a status symbol for young people. Some young people now walk with jackets of €1800. They do not have any income, so the question is how they get there.”

He said the young men targeted often have no income and are already in debt from fines for previous convictions but wearing expensive clothing.

The claim is that these young men are known suspects, members of a gang. But how often will there be false positives? And how hard will it be for someone incorrectly targeted to get their stuff back?

Aside from the fact that it seems outrageous for people to have to prove to the police that they have title to things they are wearing, the story describes how the record of racist policing in the Netherlands has activists criticizing the plan:

City ombudsman Anne Mieke Zwaneveld told AD: “We realised that [they] do not want to create the appearance that there is ethnic profiling but the chances of this happening are very large.”

She said it would be very legally difficult to prove officers were justified in taking people’s coats in the middle of the street: “It is not forbidden to walk around in the street. In addition, it is often unclear how such a piece of clothing is paid and how old it is.”

Jair Schalkwijk,a spokesman for a national anti-profiling organisation Control Alt Delete, believes the policy is against a previous promise by police not to target people who look like “typical criminals”.

Techdirt added some details yesterday:

The police say they’ll be able to make quick determinations about the legality of… um… clothing by accosting well-dressed youngsters. Presumably, no one will be carrying receipts. The police have used the term “undress” but swear they’ll be focused on items that won’t leave their former owners in a state of undress (watches are mentioned). Then again, the police also say they’ll be packing clothes to hand out to people they’ve disrobed for dressing too richly, so it’s obvious it won’t just be watches being watched…

The law already gives Dutch police permission to forfeit items procured with criminal funds. Over the last decade, the police have expanded these programs to go far beyond perceived kingpins to reach street hassle levels. Dutch law enforcement have been performing “Rolex checks” on young people for three years now, but the recent expansion into Rotterdam (it originated in Amsterdam), coupled with inflammatory “undress them on the street” comments from the Rotterdam police chief, has resulted in a new wave of backlash.

The police refuse to say how they’ll determine rightful ownership of clothing/watches/jewelry they wish to seize. Obviously, the specifics would let “criminals” know what receipts to carry, but also suggests they’re not entirely sure how they’re going to carry this out either. Of course, the method matters less to the police. They don’t have to prove anything. All they have to find is a lack of proof of legitimate ownership. The burden is completely upon those walking around wearing items cops subjectively feel they can’t afford. Given the way this deck is stacked, citizens may as well just hand over “expensive” items the moment an officer approaches them. Why go through all the extra hassle if it’s not going to change anything?

One person who appeared to be Dutch argue in comments that what would make these seizures legal would be to pay a court debt or if they had been stolen, where they would be held “temporarily” during the investigation. The wee problem is that possession is 9/10th of the law. How long does one think these investigations will go on if the police find the supposed perp has no previous arrests and therefore no outstanding fines?

Needless to say, this sounds like a very crude approach that has the potential to backfire. It would also seem designed to worsen relations with communities with a high proportion of immigrants. But maybe harassment is a feature, not a bug.

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  1. Alex V

    In a just world, the cops would be stripping bankers of their Rolexes and suits as they leave the office. Probably easier to prove those ill gotten gains as well. Unlikely though, since the Dutch economy is mildly dependent on its status as a tax haven.

      1. Piotr K.

        Well, oldest generation still remember slave-labor camps. So why not to take stuff from obviously criminals?

    1. DHG

      The fuzz are nothing but thieves in the employ of the rich though they will claim they are paid by the government.

    2. RBHoughton

      Its that MBS fellow in Saudi who started it. Shaking down the rich could become a trend in cash-strapped countries like ‘you know who’

  2. JacobiteInTraining

    If a citizen feels the cops are dressed ‘too expensively’, and/or ‘too much like Rambo’, can we confiscate their AR-15s, suppressed MP5s, battle armor, LRADs, and/or MRAPs?

    (asking for a friend…)

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      FWIW, many years ago, a friend of mine was doing a story for Vanity Fair on a murder at Yale. She met several times with the New Haven police, and remarked that they wore awfully expensive watches and Italian suits, as in they didn’t go with their salaries.

      I mentioned this to a buddy who had once been the DA, a nearby city in Connecticut. He rolled his eyes and said, “Someone needs to tell them to tone it down.” He’d been telling me how cops busted various criminal operations in a way to maximize the cash haul, and would keep a portion for themselves. It used to be the cops would skim only 20% and turn in 80%. He thought the percentage had reversed by the 1990s.

      1. RBHoughton

        In a properly run police department the big money from drugs, gambling and prostitution should be sent to a tax haven and the officer only shown a receipt. He can enjoy it after retirement.

    2. Livius Drusus

      Great comment. I also notice that the police mostly drive around in massive SUVs these days. I rarely see police sedans now. I wonder if the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan influenced this trend because it seems to have taken off in the 2000s. It would make sense given how the police often treat the U.S. as occupied territory.

    3. WheresOurTeddy

      Talked to a friend of mine who worked for a PD in the southern California area about how dirty are the cops, really, Dave?

      His response: “Have you seen ‘Training Day’? It’s quaint.”

  3. Paulz

    The Othering we see in the US and Europe has manifested itself into dog whistle actions — say key words and everyone, primarily fearful whites, know what you you are saying. The Netherlands is not immune to this white backlash. Indeed, the Dutch have stepped up black and Muslim surveillance in recent years, which is aided and abetted by the establishment. Whites need not worry about Rotterdam’s new confiscation measures.

  4. Summer

    “This sounds like a very crude approach with the potential to backfire…”

    Potential to backfire? As if it would be a good idea, only if actual wealthy people didn’t run the risk of being inconvenienced?

    No, it has no potential. It’s an idea that comes from yet another culture of fear and one that prioritizes profits over people. That always rears it’s head even in the most alleged progressive counties.

    Also, I could see this idea used in the war on cash.

  5. EoH

    The Dutch are both progressive and conservative. They are creative, willing to experiment and, more importantly, drop experiments when they fail. They are also more practical and humane than this. The implication is that the mayor and police in Rotterdam are worried more than usual about threats to Europe’s biggest port.

    This is silly and beyond any police force’s ability to do well. Imagine if police in LA or NYC tried implementing a sumptuary law designed around one’s true financial worth. Apart from giving David Brooks weeks of column material, it would tank sales of Swiss watches, designer clothes and meals at designer restaurants (which would become police hangouts, as ICE uses courthouses). Car sales wouldn’t do so well, either.

    1. RepubAnon

      Reminds me of an incident a number of years ago – police saw a black man wearing a blue scarf driving an expensive car. Ha ha! the cops thought. Blue scarf… must be a Crypt gang member! Obviously a drug dealer! We can seize his expensive car and claim it’s drug related!

      So, a bunch of cops pulled the guy over. They didn’t believe it was his car until he put on his sun glasses – they then recognized him as actor LeVar Burton – Geordi of Star Trek Next Generation…

      1. human

        This would regularly happen to Miles Davis in NYC as he cruised around town in his trademark Ferrari.

        Driving while black …

  6. divadab

    It’s the Dutch version of “Stop and Frisk” – because possession of personal use quantities of pot is legal there.

    How else do you keep the bad boys on the back foot in the street?

    I’ll bet the local merchants are delighted by the new policy.

    1. rd

      Stop and Frisk combined with Civil Asset Forfeiture where your possessions are deemed to be guilty without representation.

  7. Watt4Bob

    I find this idea very funny because in my as-yet, unpublished dystopian masterpiece, gangs of black-block anarchists regularly detain the rich, when they can find them in public, and impose ‘TT’ Total-Taxation, which entails relieving them of their cars, clothes and possessions, leaving them naked beside the road.

    As the people becomes aware of the practice, it becomes common practice for the public to refuse aid to the naked rich because of their obviously ‘improper appearance’.

    As opposed to civil forfeiture, as practiced by police in the USA, ‘TT’ would be carefully planned and executed so as to avoid impacting the innocent.

  8. A1

    So what? Or are you playing the race card?

    Law abiding people have nothing to fear and it will not be a problem for most people. It is a legitimate question and a tell for law enforcement. Or are you so blind with your so called human rights that society should just allow criminals free reign? There is such a thing as the greater good you know. Funny how Manhattan is famous for using stop and frisk to clean up your environs but heaven forbid any place else follow suit. Typical New York arrogance – do what I say not what I do.

    1. Massinissa

      Are you serious? How do you know someone wearing a nice coat or watch is a criminal or not? And Yves has ALWAYS been against Stop and Frisk. That was a complete straw man.

    2. ArcadiaMommy

      Really? Blind with human rights?

      I am law abiding, native born citizen, but only half white. I have a young appearance, a nice car, a few pieces of good jewelry and quality clothing. So maybe I would be deemed to not have “earned” these items? And why stop there. Maybe these officers/officials would think my very light skinned, mostly Nordic heritage children could not be mine (they are “white”, too well-dressed, etc.). I remember my mother being treated as though she was our nanny. And she gets the same treatment now when she is out with the boys.

      I will say that, at least in our area, people are embarrassed when she tells them she is their grandmother.

      If your comment is meant in jest, please ignore my post.

    3. WheresOurTeddy

      I’d say ‘there’s always one of you’ but the problem is, there’s a lot more than one of you.

      Your comment is textbook white privilege. Probably don’t care about all your emails and texts being scooped up either. Were you telling people “The Surge is working!” in 2005?

      Educate yourself.

    4. James T. Cricket

      Yes, agree with these replies.

      Most people don’t realise (or refuse to see) what is happening. The trend, here in Australia or the US and elsewhere is to make sure that being stopped by the police is itself a serious penalty.

      The police are being empowered to stop, deliver judgement, pass sentence and impose the punishment–right on the roadside or street: impounding cars, stealing watches, confiscating cash or whatever else they want to do next. No trial, no defence, no argument. In Australia, if you argue/disagree, you’re likely to be arrested for obstruction or hindering police, in the US, probably shot in the face.

      Naturally, these penalties are applied to those who do not have whitish skin, are of poor appearance (as judged by others) or look in some other way the police disapprove of. The burden is on the ordinary citizen to provide excuses for his watch, his wallet, car, clothes, to provide an excuse for his being there, from the officially-approved list of excuses.

      A better way to produce division, increase resentment and suspicion, to harm general relations among people, to kill cooperation with police, to turn people and their government into an ‘us and them’ situation instead of democracy, no one has yet thought of.

      Police are being given the wrong idea about their role in society.

  9. JBird

    Yes, the police have been legally allowed to seize your stuff using civil asset forfeiture in the “War on Drugs” for something like twenty years on the basis of “because we can.” I think it has gone on so long because too many Americans cannot believe it is legal and that it is common.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Yours Truly has a different take.

      Back in 2000, I got ripped off on eBay. Happened after I lost an auction for shrink wrapped software. Someone who wasn’t the seller e-mailed me to say that she had the same software, and would I like to buy it?

      Answer: Yes.

      I sent her a check, and shortly thereafter, the software arrived. It was in a CD, and believe me, it wasn’t shrink wrapped. Looked like somebody had just burned a CD. I never installed the software, because I had no idea was was on the CD.

      Since this bogus software was mailed to me, I had a big, mean federal friend on my side, the United States Postal Inspection Service. I made a report through a local post office and went on with my life.

      ‘Round about 2002, I got a big, fat letter from the United States District Court of Dallas. In that mailing was a restitution check that more than compensated me for my eBay loss. Well, let’s say that it also served as partial reimbursement for the tax on my time. And being a crime victim is VERY time-consuming.

      The letter that came with the check said that my report helped take down a ring that was ripping people off on eBay. The members of the ring had been caught, convicted, and were doing federal prison time. The restitution money came from the sale of property in Texas.

      IHMO, this is how asset forfeiture should work.

      1. JBird

        Yes, that’s how it should work but too many people are unjustly destroyed by it instead. As they are usually the little people, I guess they don’t matter to too many.

  10. RUKidding

    Boy! Talk about Fashion Police! This one really jumps the shark.

    Hope our heavily militarized PDs don’t learn about this and think it’s a great idea.


  11. RoelvG

    My first intuition is that this is an election stunt:

    Rotterdam’s local government includes the ‘Leefbaar Rotterdam’ party, a local right-wing party that is slightly less crazy and more pragmatic than Geert Wilder´s national right-wing party (PVV). Since the PVV will participate in the upcoming (march) municipal elections for the first time, Leefbaar is (rightly) scared of losing seats and power in Rotterdam. This looks like a stunt meant to show off their right-wing pedigree.

    However, I can’t seem to find if Leefbaar is the initiator of the policy, so if anybody knows more..

    1. EoH

      Rotterdam is also home to Erasmus University and its mayor, Ahmed Aboutaleb, is an immigrant and practicing Muslim. No doubt, this initiative has a complicated origin.

  12. greensachs

    …so, ill-gotten games?
    Doesn’t take very long, logically, to get to the top of the economic pyramid with similar considerations.

  13. marym

    In August 2013, federal district court judge Shira Scheindlin found that stop-and-frisk was unconstitutional. The stop-and-frisk era formally drew to a close in January 2014, when newly-elected Mayor Bill de Blasio settled the litigation and ended the program.

    Brennan Center 2016:

    Given this large-scale effort, one might expect crime generally, and murder specifically, to increase as stops tapered off between 2012 and 2014. Instead, as shown below, the murder rate fell while the number of stops declined. In fact, the biggest fall occurred precisely when the number of stops also fell by a large amount — in 2013.

    The idea that innocent people have nothing to fear from aggressive policing is both dangerous to a free society, and not substantiated by facts. Innocent people are arrested, have their assets seized, get shot by police all the time. Don’t count on the “this will never happen to people who look like me so who cares” card.

      1. James T. Cricket

        Well said Marym, and people would find it useful to look at:

        And from your last paragraph, of course, we should also at least keep in mind:

        First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
        Because I was not a Socialist.
        Then they came for the poorly dressed, and I did not speak out–
        Because I was not poorly dressed.
        Then they came for the well dressed, and I did not speak out because …

  14. Bob Jones

    Problem: Young male gang members (almost exclusively immigrant background) feel they have the run of the streets, mocking police and displaying their ill-gotten prizes brazenly.
    You can: (choose one or more)
    -Ramp up policing to end the revenue flows from drugs, prostitution, extortion and gambling.
    -Enforce your borders, improve immigration screening and deport foreign nationals convicted of gang crimes.
    -improve integration efforts so that newcomers aren’t as tempted by risky but lucrative criminality.
    -indulge in petty harassment to keep up the appearance of of law and order, without tackling underlying issues

    Considering the financial and political costs of the first three, I think I know what most any government would choose.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Make stuff up much? This is an explicit violation of our written site Policies.

      A search of crime levels in Rotterdam shows that they are l “moderate” only 2 of 11 subcategories and “low” in the rest:

      Problem people using or dealing drugs
      Problem property crimes such as vandalism and theft


      Moreover, having lived in NYC when it was considered dangerous (right after the fiscal crisis), you take sensible precautions, like avoid areas known to be risky and have “street sense” like recognize that a crowded block is safer than an empty one.

      So don’t project bigoted fears onto situations you know nothing about.

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      Bob Jones, your comment is enlightened as the university that bears your name.

      Which is to say not at all.

  15. Massinissa

    Wouldnt the result of this policy be that criminals just stop wearing stolen clothes and watches? It would end up punishing people who legitimately buy these things instead, who feel they have nothing to fear from the police because they have done nothing wrong.

  16. Paul Harvey 0swald

    No upstanding ne’er-do-well would ever, of course, be seen with a knock-off Rolex or Coach.

  17. Jeremy Grimm

    This practice by the Rotterdam police could prove useful for promoting a new “art” film and its beautiful young actress.

  18. Eustache De Saint Pierre

    The Elizabethan’s had an extension of this called ” Sumptuary Laws “, which regulated the precise form of apparel to be worn by the around seven social classes.

    Perhaps then & now it is better to be like Carlo Gambino than John Gotti for lower tier criminals.

    1. visitor

      Sumptuary laws were in force in most European countries during the Ancien Régime. The fabric types, cut, colours, adornments, and, of course, the right to bear an arm (typically a sword) were strictly regulated for all classes of society. Punishments for infringement of sumptuary laws were harsh.

      1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

        I didn’t realise it was not just an English phenomenon. so thank you for that extra information – from what I have been able to gather which is apparently based on court records at least during Shakespeare’s time, the law was rarely enforced .

        1. The Rev Kev

          There is a good article on these laws at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumptuary_law and the practice even spread to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the early days. I’ll quote one section from this page, for fun, describing the first such laws in 7th century BC Greece-

          “A free-born woman may not be accompanied by more than one female slave, unless she is drunk; she may not leave the city during the night, unless she is planning to commit adultery; she may not wear gold jewelry or a garment with a purple border, unless she is a courtesan; and a husband may not wear a gold-studded ring or a cloak of Milesian fashion unless he is bent upon prostitution or adultery.”

          Sounds like the ancient Greeks were party monsters.

            1. The Rev Kev

              These sumptuary laws seem to have been far more widespread than I thought. I have been reading up on England in the 17th & 18th century and although the sumptuary laws of the Elizabethan era were gone, there were still restrictions in place that limited what you could wear depending on your circumstances. Partially it was to maintain the inequality of ranks but it was also to encourage local industry and discourage luxury imports.
              As an example, between 1666 and 1680 laws were passed in England requiring everyone to have a woolen shroud for burial. An affidavit was required and parish registers sometimes mentioned that people were naked when buried as they could not afford the woolen shroud. This was of course to encourage the local wool industry and discourage the import of linen from the continent. These sumptuary laws followed you even into death.
              Genealogically speaking, most people reading this had ancestors that would have been buried in wool because of these laws.

              1. visitor

                Elizabethan laws were just the continuation of a long, long list of sumptuary edicts dating back from the middle ages. There were analogous ordinances in every European country (France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, etc), in states catholic and protestant.

                Those laws dealt not just with attire, but also with foodstuffs, dancing (a prescription in Munich from 1320 determined where dancing was allowed during a wedding party, depending on the dowry: more than 40 pounds, and dancing was allowed in the entire city; less, and it was allowed only in a single street), the usage of wax (vs. tallow for candles), etc, etc.

  19. ChrisPacific

    I feel a bit guilty that my first thought was that we should bring these cops to the US and turn them loose on Congress/the Senate/Wall St/the White House.

  20. pebird

    And for the stuff that’s expensive looking but fake, they can enforce counterfeit product laws. A 2 for 1.

  21. Anonymous

    How many teenagers are able to buy four+ figure watches? Very few.
    How many parents buy four+ figure watches for their teens? Very few.

    The problem with letting teens have illegal access to very costly status symbols
    is the network effect created when other teens feel the need to compete for these
    status symbols. If Stacey gets a designer handbag via acts of negotiable affection does Jill
    not feel pressure to find her own means to do the same? Of course she does. Teenagers
    are not known for for their good sense and strength of character (although it does occassionally

    There is no good reason that teenagers should be possessing high end luxury
    goods in the vast majority of cases. This is sensible legislation that will target
    the worst of the criminal “thought leaders” amongst teens.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Help me. The article specifically mentions Rolexes. Ebay shows lots of Rolexes for under $1000, even quite a few under $250. That’s before you get to fakes.

      And you tacitly admit “in the vast majority of cases”. The standard for the law is innocent until proven guilty. But you are fine with not just teenagers but young adults having stuff taken from them because the cops make judgments about what they are wearing? Since when do they have either the right to do that or the expertise?

      And see the comment above about how a light-skinned person of color gets treated.

  22. Jean

    So they don’t have any thrift shops in Holland?
    Sounds like a plot by the new clothing manufacturers.

  23. Jeff N

    I am reminded of the “casuals”…
    “The casual subculture is a subsection of association football culture that is typified by football hooliganism and the wearing of expensive designer clothing (known as “clobber”). The subculture originated in the United Kingdom in the early 1980s when many hooligans started wearing designer clothing labels and expensive sportswear such as Stone Island, CP Company, L’alpina, Lacoste, Sergio Tacchini, Fila and Ellesse in order to avoid the attention of police and to intimidate rivals.”

      1. JBird

        The wearing of zoot suits were just handy excuses. It was race riots with the zoot suited chicanos being easy targets by rampaging whites. I’ve forgotten what the specifics were especially what triggered them. All I really remember is that the police were being asses, the Chicanos were angry and then add drunken sailors. Boom. This is when almost the entire Japanese-American population was sent to effectively concentration camps for being Japanese-Americans and therefore a probable fifth column.

  24. The Rev Kev

    It must be because I have not yet finished my morning coffee but hey, this is not a real story. This is a pilot plan and I can guess where they got the idea from. Remember when a 19-year-old college student from Queens was handcuffed and locked in a jail cell (https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Black-Teenager-Lawsuit-Barneys-Belt-NYPD-Purchase-Detain-Fake-Identification-228915061.html) after buying a $350 designer belt at Barneys on Madison Avenue because he was buying while black? Or the time that a 21 year-old black student was nearly arrested (https://nypost.com/2013/10/23/another-black-shopper-accuses-barneys-of-racism/) for buying a $2,500 Céline handbag? Both went to Barneys so you suspect that it was the staff that called police but how many other times did this happen?
    I could also mention that time that a black woman was arrested and taken to a mental facility (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3232178/Outrage-black-woman-forced-spend-8-days-psych-ward-cops-not-believe-BMW-driving-hers.html) because she claimed that the BMW she was driving was hers, that she was a banker and that Obama followed her on Twitter (it was, she was, he did). And then given a $13,000 medical bill after being released.
    There is a common theme running through these three stories but I just haven’t quite worked it out yet.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I said it was a pilot plan. Re-read the intro. If you read the Independent piece, that means they are going to indeed do this, with the “pilot” part being that they will target a particular gang. Awfully peculiar definition of pilot , which usually means “limited time with measurement of results v. goals and other metrics,” usually complaints.

      The Independent said they had a similar pilot with expensive cars.

      1. The Rev Kev

        To tell you the truth, stories like this offend the Anglo-Saxon in me. By that I mean a several hundred year tradition of (not always) laws where if a state accuses you of a crime, it is up to the state to prove you guilty of it. More and more, even here in Australia, I am seeing laws being written where if the state accuses you of a crime, it is up to you to prove your innocence to the state.
        Those Dutch gang members may be punks but it is up to proper police work to put them away. That is their job. Not come up with ad-hoc laws that only harass them and leave open the potential for these laws to be applied more widely.
        On a lighter note. You wonder what would happen if they tried this type of scheme in suburbs in western countries. A cop car would pull over a middle-class couple and say something like:
        “You’re not entitled to drive this car. We’ve run your financials and see that between your credit card debts, your mortgage loan and outstanding loans, you cannot possibly afford this fine car. Our algorithms say that you cannot afford it. Please take your hands off the wheel and step out of the car. We will be confiscating it and putting it up for auction.
        I wrote this as a partial joke but then I remembered all those drivers being pulled over and having their money confiscated by the police saying that it must be drug money and having to spend thousands trying to get their money back again – if they could afford it. And there we are right back at that Anglo-Saxon tradition.

  25. Jamie

    OK, so this may or may not violate Dutch sensibilities, and we don’t know where those suggesting that it is reasonable live… but, at least for those of us living in the U.S… it goes against our grain because 4th amendment to our constitution states:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    So you won’t be seeing this anytime soon in NYC, even if the NYPD all love the idea, and to most U.S.ers it does not sound at all reasonable, though some on the right might like the idea. I am not so naive as to think this constitutional right is never violated, but its violation cannot easily be institutionalized in the U.S. But whether it can be, or makes sense to be, institutionalized in the Netherlands is something for the Dutch to figure out. I don’t think it automatically signifies in the context of the Netherlands what it would signify were it to happen in NYC. Place matters and historical context matters.

    1. JBird

      So you won’t be seeing this anytime soon in NYC, even if the NYPD all love the idea, and to most U.S.ers it does not sound at all reasonable, though some on the right might like the idea.

      I do not want to get angry and rant…It has been happening in our country the United States of America for decades using the pretext of the “War on Drugs”.

      It’s not hard to find stories of people losing their cash, money, cars, homes on the flimsiest of reasons, or no reason except that they have it.

      Please note that people have had the money from their wallet as well as luggage or vehicle because it is too large an amount to be traveling with. Indeed enterprising police have even removed the money from gift cards with hand held devices, also because “reasons.” Sometimes it’s because of what someone else supposedly did like family, friends or customers.

      The victims are often not even charged, or even accused, but just are suspicious! And while it’s usually nonwhites or poor whites, however just about anyone can be a victim.

      1. Jamie

        My post was hasty and ill considered. I did not realize how ignorant I am of the situation, and reading this thread and seeing it develop over time has opened my eyes somewhat. Thank you.

        1. JBird

          No worries.

          I think it’s the sheer outrageousness and insanity prevent many from seeing. I wasn’t too concerned myself at first; twenty years later reading this stuff and thinking it can’t get worse, it does, I start wondering if I’m the unreasonable one!

  26. Alex

    You seem to start from the assumption that the police would abuse this tool. I’m not sure it’s true in this case. Has there been a history of police abuses in Rotterdam or Netherlands in general?

    Also, this approach is supposed to be used when fighting corruption. The UN convention against corruption calls for criminal punishment of officials whose assets substantially exceed their income

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Did you manage to miss that this process is inherently rife for abuse? The police make subjective judgments. People of color are discriminated against. Local organizations are already voicing opposition to this policy.

      This is also a violation of basic legal rights. The idea that the police can seize property and put people in the position of having to get it back, with no prima facie evidence, is contrary to procedural norms. The fact that you don’t get that is shocking.

      And “this approach” is nothing like the UN convention approach, which allows for property seizures after an investigation, not based on police guesses.

      1. Alex

        I’m not saying that this is a good policy and I definitely agree that it can be abused pretty easily. My point is that if the Rotterdam policemen behaved good until now (after all they already have plenty of powers they could abuse) then it’s unlikely that they will start abusing this particular tool placed at their disposal.

        I know very little about Dutch laws so I can’t comment whether it’s legal or no, and norms is what most of the people agree on at a given moment

        1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

          I have no idea of the size of the immigrant population in Rotterdam, or how it is concentrated or it’s ethnic mix, but this reminds me of what was referred to by the West Indian population of London ( particularly Brixton ) as ” Sus “. In which people could be arrested under suspicion of having committed a crime.

          It was of course supposedly colour blind, but in reality, no prizes for guessing who felt the brunt of it. It resulted in much resentment within the community as it was obvious that just being black was enough to incur harassment from the police & in some cases even worse if taken into custody.

          The riots that followed were caused by many factors but after government inquiry ” Sus ” was abolished & a much more community style policing was introduced. Perhaps it is a storm in a teacup but in my early experience of living in a large inner city immigrant area, perception of measures like these only feed general resentment & in the case above at least, do little to deter petty criminals.

      2. EoH

        I agree. Unfortunately we have egregious examples here, such as forfeiture laws, which allow the taking of assets without prosecution or conviction, on the mere assertion that a crime has been committed and that such assets are the fruit of it. It’s the devil’s own problem to get anything back, like proving a negative.

        Forfeiture laws are local law enforcement’s opioid crisis. They provide funds for big parts of their budgets. Some courts are trying to restrain the action of these laws, but the Feds organize work arounds to keep the money flowing, in part because it helps them federalize local leos and give them influence with which to elicit cooperation with their sometimes dubious initiatives.

        These sorts of forfeiture laws are highly objectionable for the reasons you give. They also elegantly demonstrate your point.

    2. James T. Cricket

      No, no, I’ve had my mind changed on this one now.

      Since I didn’t find any evidence on my eyeballs right this minute the Rotterdam police have abused other laws, I say we give police, no I say the police are inherently entitled to, for those who would like them, more and more powers, that is, until we definitely see them abusing citizens whom we institute laws to protect–more and more power–then we shall have to ask those police really politely to get one or two of those back.

      I submit, that is my starting point.

  27. Norb

    Maybe these proposed laws should be called, pot calling the kettle black laws. Just as violence is always acceptable from the top of the social hierarchy down, thievery also functions on the same dynamic. In a civil society, this elite activity is moderated. Removing all constrains on this moderation is what is happening.

    Bill Black should probably write an article on the evolution of a crimogenic environment- for that is what has been normalized- crime. These laws seem to test the waters on how to most efficiently manage one crime organization against another. If physical violence can be avoided, all the better. Innocents being caught up in the activity is irrelevant. Acceptable collateral damage. If you want to do crime, you must have the talents and ambition for the big leagues. The raider says, give me your stuff, and it is handed over. I think Saudi Arabia just conducted a similar experiment- albeit from the elite end. I believe it is still ongoing.

    Another angle to this story could be another confirmation of the Dark State. The proposed law is so blatantly misguided in the sense of proper social functioning, the only people who would benefit form it are powerful actors in the shadows. The function of such a law is divide and conquer writ large.

    Until the threat of physical violence, or noncompliance, flowing back up the social hierarchy is a reality once more, expect more of the same. Trial balloon, Indeed. How much abuse will the citizenry take seems the goal.

  28. Bukko Boomeranger

    “First they came for the people who wore Rolexes, and I said nothing because I could only afford a lousy Timex…”

  29. TedHunter

    The described Dutch project is the stupid interpretation of a rather effective method of combating organized crime and tax evasion. Lacking another term I will call it the “Italian solution”, only that in Italy they focussed on what matters. After the Great Crash, Guardia di Finanza has increasingliy targeted owners of SUV, luxury cars and yachts. Combined teams would set up check points (road, harbour), and compare the beneficial owner and his/her declared income. Sometimes seizing assets on the spot. It’s been a simple, but effective method which, as far as I remember, has been mentioned on NC a while ago. According to the Economist, business in some marinas fell by 50%. http://www.economist.com/node/21560920

  30. Edward

    They should hire Rudolph Guliani to run this program. EU member states are required to meet certain human rights standards. Would this program violate those rules?

  31. RBHoughton

    In a properly run police department the big money from drugs, gambling and prostitution should be sent to a tax haven and the officer only shown a receipt. He can enjoy it after retirement. I don’t know what the world is coming to!

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