This Happens All the Time

When Phoenix, Arizona, resident Mark Cramer gained custody of his three children, he used his savings to repair his 1985 pickup truck and move into a larger apartment.

When thieves stole his pickup in April 1995, he had trouble finding transportation to get to his job on time.

When Customs agents recovered his pickup a month later, Cramer thought he was lucky. Customs seized the truck in a border drug bust. The smugglers who stole the pickup pled guilty four days after their arrest, leaving Customs with no reason to keep the truck.

But the feds didn't give it back, despite repeated requests by Cramer, a Phoenix police officer, and a Phoenix lawyer working pro bono.

"This happens all the time," a Customs official told him. Cramer lost his job because he couldn't get to work. He lost his apartment because he could no longer pay the rent. He and his family were forced to live on the streets.

Source: "Man, family out on street after feds seize truck," June 30, 1995, Phoenix Gazette.