These are the wages of sin: 55 planes lined up wingtip to wingtip at the Homestead General Aviation Airport in southern Florida, 400 cars, trucks and motor homes sitting in an open-air lot at the Air Force's Ream Field near San Diego, and 500 boats -- including a leaky 350-foot tanker -- floating at slips all around the Florida Coast. In all, government law enforcement officials have seized booty valued at $82 million from smugglers of drugs, illegal aliens and the like.
Since the government decided to do more confiscating, according to the General Accounting Office, it has had trouble finding a secure place to keep the confiscated "conveyances" -- a total so far of 692 boats, 161 planes and 3,665 vehicles -- until they can be sold at auction. The average loss from vandalism, theft, rust and mildew runs about $800 per car, $37,900 per boat and $43,500 per airplane, GAO estimates.
GAO reports that a 30-foot "Cigarette" racing boat seized by the Customs Service was demolished by a vandal with an ax, the cars at Ream Field are "routinely" stripped of radios, tape decks and speakers, and a plane in Florida was stripped of its controls, instruments and seats.
GAO didn't report what almost happened in Florida -- a thief sneaked into one confiscated plane, revved the engine, and tried to take off. Unfortunately for the thief, the plane was parked crossways on the runway. He went through a fence and bumped along for a mile or so before ditching the plane and disappearing, a customs spokesman said.