The federal government now seizes more assets from its citizens than burglars steal every year in aggregate. And that doesn't even include seizures under state law. In most cases, the government takes the assets without the owner ever having been convicted of a crime. WaPo's underlying analysis came from this economist who calculated:
Between 1989 and 2010, U.S. attorneys seized an estimated $12.6 billion in asset forfeiture cases. The growth rate during that time averaged +19.4% annually. In 2010 alone, the value of assets seized grew by +52.8% from 2009 and was six times greater than the total for 1989. Then by 2014, that number had ballooned to roughly $4.5 billion for the year, making this 35% of the entire number of assets collected from 1989 to 2010 in a single year. According to the FBI, the total amount of goods stolen by criminals in 2014 burglary offenses suffered an estimated $3.9 billion in property losses. This means that the police are now taking more assets than the criminals.See a related column from the Institute for Justice's Matt Miller providing a Texas perspective.