Currently a loophole in Alabama state legislation prevents law enforcement agents from taking back certain items that have been purchased through identity theft or stolen credit cards. However, Republican Allen Treadaway is sponsoring House Bill 75 that would allow police departments to seize such items in the future.
The Gardendale Police Department helped play a key role in the creation of this bill when their police detective, Chris Clark, was the first to point out the problem to Treadaway. Clark then contacted a district attorney in north Alabama who assisted in the writing of the potential legislation. A similar bill, Senate Bill 332, has recently gotten out of committee and passed by the Senate. It will now be looked at by the state House of Representatives.
“If it wasn’t for his push, I don’t think we’d be where we are with it right now, with a Senate and House version,” Treadaway said. “It just made good sense. Why would we want any criminal to obtain ill-gotten gains from his criminal activity? We need to close the loophole and seize these items.”
Detective Clark noted that criminals have crossed state lines in the past to commit these types of crimes in Alabama so they could potentially keep their stolen goods if they were caught. That, coupled with the Alabama prison system being overcrowded, means many convicted criminals get probation rather than going to prison.
“You might get caught after two or three years, but it’s the cost of doing business,” Clark said. “You get probation, and then you get to keep what you stole. This law will hopefully help offset that. It will be another tool for law enforcement to battle it.”