Bill and Jennifer Brinkley did their research before buying their Land Rover Defender. The British-made off-road utility vehicle is rare in the United States, because it typically does not comply with U.S. safety and emissions standards. The Brinkleys thought they were purchasing a 1985 Defender, which would be legal according to an exemption that permits the importation of Defenders older than 25 years.
Homeland Security says otherwise. According to local news outlet WBTV, earlier this month several DHS vehicles rolled onto the Brinkleys’ Statesville, N.C., property, then rolled away with the couple’s vehicle. Officials say that the car’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) may have been changed to make the car appear older than it was to bypass customs restrictions. Now they will not tell the Brinkleys what has become of their car.
The Department of Homeland Security oversees U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which is responsible for enforcing U.S. restrictions on imports. Why it was necessary for DHS to bring a motorcade onto their property for a sort of quasi-raid the Brinkleys do not know.
The couple has 35 days from the day of the seizure of the vehicle to file an appeal.