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Old November 6, 2004, 05:59 AM   #1
smince
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Owner on Vacation: It happened to me.

Not sure if this is the right forum for this story but here goes:

My wife and I went to visit a couple of our friends one day. After spending nearly all day, they invited us to stay for dinner, if I would ride to the store with the husband to get some things. I agreed. These are two of our best friends, and they live in a VERY rural area. Run time for a deputy to get there is about 20-30 minutes on a slow night, much longer if they are busy.

My friend is like me in the fact that he always carries, and this night he had his 5" Colt loaded with 230 ball, and a spare mag. I had my BHP, Federal 9BP hollow points, one spare mag, and my Surefire 6P. On the way back from the store, he asked if I cared if we made a little detour. A woman that lived near them was in Florida visiting her daughter, and had asked him to check on her house occasionally. He told me it had been a couple of days, and he needed to run by. I said "fine with me".

It was already dark, and as we drove by, lights were on in the back of the house. He said he could have left them on, but didn't think he had. We drove on past the house about a quarter mile, and he pulled over. "What do you think? Want to check it, just to be sure?"

"O.K." I said "But let's walk from here, just in case. We don't want to let anyone know we are coming." He grabbed his cell phone and we started walking. As we approached the house, we took full advantage of the trees in the yard for cover and advancement. We had no idea if anyone was in the house, and we had agreed not to bother the deputies if it was just a case of him forgetting to turn off the lights.

We went up onto the porch, one on each side of the door. Neither of us is LE, but both are former military, and have trained together enough to know each others actions. Both weapons drawn, low ready. I had my Surefire and he inserted the key into the door. When he did, the back door slammed open, and we heard the sound of several feet running into the woods. We both were visibily shaken. We knew there was the possibility of intruders, but the reality was shocking.

After we took cover and gathered ourselves, a 911 call was placed, and since it was a Friday night, we were told it would be close to an hour or longer before a unit might arrive. We waited and watched a while, then went ahead and cleared the house. It looked like a whole family had moved in. Groceries, trash, fast food wrappers. When the Deputy arrived, he said that it was getting common for illegals in the area to move in to unoccupied houses and mobile homes and stay as long as they could. The poultry and garment industries are big in our area, and attracts more than its share of immigrants, legal and otherwise.

This story happened a few years ago, but was brought to mind again the other day by a story in our local paper. A couple had a mobile home for sale, and the woman went by to clean it up for some prospective buyers. When she went inside she found several people she didn't know, who all ran out. The sheriff's department told her that the merchandise in the home was all stolen, and that there was a meth lab set up in the back room. And that she was lucky they ran. It could have been much worse.
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Old November 6, 2004, 07:43 AM   #2
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What is your point other than to suggest that bad guys may take advantage of an unoccupied structure?
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Old November 6, 2004, 07:57 AM   #3
smince
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No particular point.

Just an event that happened to me.

Others might learn something by the mistakes we made.
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Old November 6, 2004, 08:01 PM   #4
Dusty Miller
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When you go on vacation either make sure somebody is staying there or leave on lights and a TV, preferably using timers. Have the mail and paper stopped, all the usual precautions. Its really good if your brother is a big sumbitch and knows how to use a gun!
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Old November 6, 2004, 08:14 PM   #5
TheBluesMan
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I wouldn't say that you really did anything wrong, smince. You approached cautiously, you didn't follow the squatters into the woods, you called 911 when you knew the place was occupied. Seem all right to me.

The only thing that I wouldn't have done was clear the place. But I've had no training with that, so I'd have just waited for the police.

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Old November 7, 2004, 09:07 AM   #6
CarlosDJackal
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There are two things that I would have done very differently. The first is I would not have tried to clear the house myself, buddy or no buddy. I've had to clear a few structures by myself and it was by the grace of God that they were empty. Put me in any structure or building and send in two individuals to try and clear it and I can guarantee I'm going to kill at least one of them. Not very good odds in my book and hardly worth the price of material possessions. Let those who do this as a living conduct the searches themselves. That's what they are trained and paid for, IMHO.

The second thing I would have done differently is to call 911 as soon I some suspicion that someone had breaken into the house. Also, a call to report that you scared someone out of someone's house is not as a big of a priority as a report that someone had broken into the house and is probably still occupying it. So chances are their response time would have been a lot shorter had you called 911 before trying to clear the house yourself.

JM2CW.
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Old November 7, 2004, 03:51 PM   #7
smince
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We called 911 after they ran out the back. And response time was still about an hour. And my sister's husband is a deputy. Trust me, it is a "thin blue line."

Although we thought someone MIGHT be in the house, the reality didn't set in until they ran. Back of our minds we thought(hoped?!) it was just a light left on. How many people out there really call the law for something like that? Not saying if it was right or wrong, just human nature to try to avoid embarrassment..

Yes, I would do things differently now. And in other situations I have found myself in, I remember this and other lessons I have learned. At the time though, checking the house beat laying in the grass for an hour waiting on the deputy.

And if I ever decide to do something like this again, I hope to have my 870 instead of a handgun.
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Old November 7, 2004, 05:46 PM   #8
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I appreciate your "sharing", Smince. I think this is a good example of how someone can get involved in an encounter outside the "dark alley" or classic "home intruder" scenarios, without having the "Mall ninja" looking for trouble mindset. Your situation is very easy for many of us to relate to.

In a rural area with a dearth of law enforcement, I think there is some grayer areas with regards to calling 911 then in a more urban area. In principal, I'll concur with the others here who advocate calling 911.

But I do think there can be mitigating circumstances. Considering that you could be taking the only LEO for miles around out of position for a more urgent, life-threatening call for possibly nothing would give many pause, including me. I would not condemn as a vigilante anyone who pushed it a little further to see if the law was truly being broken. I might, depending on the complete circumstances, actually start to clear the building, but would very agressively break contact and withdraw at the first sign of current occupation.

It all depends though. I do think it is sound civic-mindedness to consider the the "thin blue line" in ones equation. I can understand your sense of impatience, and potential embarassment. May I ask generally where you are experiencing your illegal house-squatting problems? From poultry and textiles, I'd be guessing Carolina?
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Old November 8, 2004, 03:26 AM   #9
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Only thing I would have done differently would have been to have kept a long gun in the trunk of the car or as applicable. Handguns are handy and can be carried for the unexpected, but if I am going to go looking for what even might be trouble out of choice, I want a long gun.

Even in many cities and towns police response times can be quite long depending on what hour of what day it is. This just underscores the fact that your best protector is you and no one else.
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Old November 8, 2004, 04:54 AM   #10
Brick
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This just re-emphasizes the need for armed citizens...cops are about an hour away! 911 would take a loooonng time..
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Old November 8, 2004, 07:29 PM   #11
Bob F.
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I'm pretty much with Arizona as I also live in a rural area, and have had LE's ask me for backup! I'm usually of the opinion of "opposite corners", though; cover the 4 sides and shout a "hands up" or such. Of course, I've never made a mistrake either! Seriously, I think you did OK.

Stay safe.
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Old November 8, 2004, 07:34 PM   #12
smince
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Arizona Fusilier:

Couple of states west, Northeast Alabama to be exact (approximately 6 years ago).

Everytime I've had an "Adventure", as me and my wife call them, its been when I (or we) were minding our own business. People ask me why I carry, I tell them "I know IT CAN HAPPEN TO ME. It already has."

Slightly off topic: When I was in the USAF, we were assembled at an outdoor track (on the bleachers) for an overseas briefing. Two individuals were jogging around the track. No one hardly paid them any notice. When they got around to us, they pulled out (blank firing) weapons and opened up on us. The instructor changed his tone very seriously and simply stated "That"s how quick it can happen!"

One of the VERY BEST lessons I learned in the service.
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Old November 9, 2004, 04:19 PM   #13
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hey dusty, not only do they fart in church, they suck out loud!
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Old November 9, 2004, 06:32 PM   #14
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smince, no particular point, but you hoped that others would learn from your mistakes? That is a pretty major point, but you failed to denote what acts you made that you thought were mistakes. You gave a narative, but no analysis and no request for analysis and so the reason for your posting of the narative was not clear at all.
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Old November 9, 2004, 07:00 PM   #15
smince
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Double naught:

The other posters didn't seem to have any problems with my post. Did I do something in your Cherrio's, or what?

My first line was I wasn't sure if this was the right forum. Have it moved, or deleted, if you want.
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Old November 9, 2004, 07:40 PM   #16
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The advice to call, immediately, is sound. Personally, I think you guys were a bit amateurish; but that’s just my opinion. Under the same circumstances I, either, wouldn’t have gone in, at all; or I would have circled the property, first, before covering the backdoor.

I understand, ‘Why’ the two of you stayed together; but, if you really wanted to, ‘bag a buck’, one noisy guy on the front door, and the other, quietly, on the lot line at the rear of the property would have put, ‘dinner on the table’. The question, then, becomes; ‘What do you do when dinner’s ready?’

Frankly I don’t believe you should attempt to play these games unless you’re absolutely willing to engage. Me? The more I think about it, the more I think I’d just make that call – ASAP!
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Old November 10, 2004, 06:33 PM   #17
smince
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Well, We are amateurs. I don't do this for a living. We were semi-prepared, but deep down we really didn't expect to find anything. And, as I've found out as I got older, thats when the SHTF! We've both replayed this scenario many times, and if it ever happens again, we would do very differently.
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Old November 10, 2004, 07:12 PM   #18
Arc Angel
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OK, no hard feelings! You're right, too: This is WHEN the SHTF! That's, 'Why' you've got to be sure what you want to accomplish BEFORE you go in.

The reason I know this is because I used to have drug addicts (and who knows what else?) for neighbors. Coming home at night was always a thrill. The week this group moved out, we were awakened at 2:00am by a platoon of state and local police. They were everywhere around the house; and I had to corral our Pit Bulls real fast!

It seems that somebody had left his electronic monitor behind and the bracelet wasn't phoning in several times a day the way it should. All I can say is, it must have been a serious beef because the police had both access roads blocked, and the backyards covered. The uncooperative bracelet, complete with severed strap, was found in a kitchen cabinet.

These guys used to stare at me whenever I left the house. (Always woke me right up!) I never spoke to them; I never let anyone approach without putting my hand in my pocket; and I, still, believe that the bulldogs were our greatest protection. I am positive they wanted no part of the bulldogs!
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Old November 11, 2004, 09:44 AM   #19
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To bad you didn't shoot the BG and bury them in the backyard !
Just kidding!

This country is "Over-run" with Illegals!
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Old November 11, 2004, 08:06 PM   #20
smince
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ARC, no hard feelings at all.

I had a neighbor, had never worked since we moved into the house. He told me he hurt his back where he worked and was on disability. That may or may not have been true, but his wife didn't work either, and they had two teenagers. Never seemed to need anything, fairly nice house and cars, though not new. I thought, "man, this comapny had one great disability plan". Then one afternoon, the Narcotics Task Force came by and took Mr. and Mrs. to jail, and the kids to state care.
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Old November 11, 2004, 08:42 PM   #21
Dennis Rogers
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Statement below .....

Nuf said
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Old November 11, 2004, 09:53 PM   #22
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"The sheriff's department told her that the merchandise in the home was all stolen, and that there was a meth lab set up in the back room."

To veer off course a little bit, I have always wondered what would happen in a situation like this. You rent out a house, or in this case you house is unoccupied (by you) and someone sets up a drug lab on your property. Are you held responsible in any way ? Can you be required to pay for the haz mat clean up ? What are the chances that your house will be declared contaminated or unfit to live in (or sell) because it contained a drug lab ?
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You know the rest. In the books you have read
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Old November 14, 2004, 12:29 AM   #23
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Good story. I enjoyed reading!!! I probably would have gone in the back of the house, since that's where the lights were on inside. Going in the front into the dark room is risky business since you don't know what could be waiting for you there. Someone with a sawed off 12 guage crouched behind the sofa for instance.
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Old November 15, 2004, 02:59 AM   #24
LAK
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Another approach would be to do alittle scouting first; sometimes a view with a pair of binoculars might give you a better idea of who or what you are dealing with from a good standoff vantage point. Even a small cheap pair are handy and can be stored in your car with little worry.
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Old November 15, 2004, 06:29 PM   #25
Byron Quick
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Years ago, before I carried continuously, I got home from work at 2AM. No lights on. I was in the house for two hours before the intruder knocked over a lamp in the spare bedroom...between me and the firearms. I was between him and the doors. I immediately left the house and waited at a corner in the dark bushes where I could see the front door and the side door. With a softball bat. When I heard him throw an armchair through the rear jalousey windows; I realized that he had analyzed the new tactical situation correctly. I went to the neighbors and called the police. I let them clear the house in case there was more than one. Nothing was taken.

I don't clear houses and I don't hold people at gunpoint. I'm not a cop.

Personally, in a situation like this, I would have known whether I left the lights in the house on. I double check on such. Once I saw the lights on, I would have called the police to report a burglary...possibly still in progress. Then I would have positioned my vehicle so that I could follow any vehicle that left to get the license plate number. Next would have been a short retreat from the vehicle to a convenient bush or shadow...just in case some curious member of the burglar group who had been wandering around wanted to walk up to car. Maybe with a gun of his own. Years ago, I was in collections and repossessions. Sitting in your car staking a house out can be a real, real bad idea.
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