LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department unlawfully seized up to $7 million worth of property from a Santa Clarita landowner, according to a lawsuit filed in a federal court.

Attorney Richard Gibson of Woodland Hills represents the owners of the property that was seized on a 20-acre site near Magic Mountain.

Deputies allegedly seized tractors, trailers, boats and cargo containers after discovering a reportedly stolen skiploader that Gibson said was abandoned on the site without the landowners’ knowledge.

“For many years, my client has stored a great deal of stuff on the property,” said Gibson. “One of [the owners] had moved from a large house on the east coast to the west and was just storing her stuff there until she found a house.”

Gibson said the sheriff’s office has yet to give his clients a complete inventory of the seized items and is allegedly refusing to return the property.

The lawsuit is seeking either the property returned or monetary compensation, he said.

“We are basically suing on the grounds that the sheriff took property that belonged to my client, and taking it was unlawful in a variety of ways,” said Gibson. “It violated their property rights, basically.”

While he has not yet seen the complaint, sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said, “Lawsuits never tell the whole story and we look forward to telling the whole story.”


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