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‘We’re going to take your car and sell it’: Fla. sheriff says all cars that flee officers will be seized

“You won’t have your car anymore, and you won’t have the opportunity to run and endanger others’ lives,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said

By Joanna Putman

LARGO, Fla. — Pinellas County drivers who attempt to flee from law enforcement will have their vehicles seized and forfeited under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, FOX 13 reported.

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced that the new initiative, which will start June 11, aims to curb the growing number of drivers evading police, according to the report. He stated that Pinellas County, Florida’s most densely populated county, faces significant risks from police pursuits.

“We don’t actively engage in dangerous high-speed pursuits because we value life over traffic violations and property,” Gualtieri said. “We pursue when it’s worth the risk, such as when someone is engaged in a violent crime, poses a threat to the community, or is driving extremely dangerously and must be stopped.”

Despite the caution in pursuing suspects, the frequency of drivers fleeing law enforcement has risen, according to the report. Since January 2022, there have been 1,042 cases of drivers evading deputies in Pinellas County, not including incidents involving the county’s 10 other police departments.

“If you don’t stop, and you’re wrong, we’re going to take your car and sell it,” Gualtieri warned. “You won’t have your car anymore, and you won’t have the opportunity to run and endanger others’ lives.”

The initiative stipulates that if a driver escapes, deputies will locate and confiscate the vehicle later. If the car belongs to someone else, the owner will be notified that their vehicle was used in a felony. Repeated offenses by the same driver will result in the car being seized and sold, even if it is owned by someone else, according to the report. The same rules will apply to rental car companies.