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Old March 22, 2006, 11:09 AM   #1
gomer
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Defending neighbor's property?

The following happened this past Fall and I thought I'd get everyones input on the situation. Sorry if it is a long read.

I work 4 10 hour days, so I'm off every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I always get up around 8:30am on Fridays to eat breakfast with and see my wife off to work when she leaves at 9:40. I live in a fairly nice residential neighborhood that has extremely low crime. So I'm not continually "on the lookout" for trouble... but this particular Friday morning I notice a strange car in the neighborhood that keeps going around my block. At about 9:20am the car backs into my neighbor's (directly across the road from my house) driveway, the driver gets out.. raises the trunk, walks up to the front door and proceeds to kick it open in one swift kick! I'm utterly speechless at what I've just witnessed. I run to the bedroom where my wife is getting ready for work and tell her to call 911, that someone has just broke into Janet's house (single mother of two boys 5 and 8). I knew she wasn't home at the time, she leaves early to take the boys to school/daycare and then to work.

Knowing the response time of the local PD is fairly long and this appeared to be a guy that was in a big hurry to "grab and dash" I decided that I was going to stop him and hold him for the police. I pulled on some jeans and shoes really quickly, grabbed my Springfield 1911, stuck it in the small of my back and went back to my front door. The guy was on his way from the rear of his car, going back into the house again. I waited until he was back in the house and ran thru my front yard, across the road and stopped behind a large tree in Janet's front yard. The tree is about 20ft from the sidewalk out into the yard and almost half way between the front door and the driveway where the car is parked. I'll admit I was terrified and starting to second guess my idea. At this time the guy walks out of the house with a microwave, right down the sidewalk past where I'm behind the tree and starts towards his car. When he is about 15 feet past the tree, I walk out from behind it and say "Hey There, what's going on??!!" The guy spins to face me (still holding the microwave) and has a very surprised look on his face. I have not drawn my weapon at this point. I tell him to set the microwave down and to sit down beside it, I have called the police and they are on the way. He mumbled something, turned around and started back towards the car quickly. He dropped the microwave in the trunk and closed it. During this time I advanced towards the car with him while keeping about 15ft or so distance between us. When he turned from closing the trunk, he faced me again and I ordered him to stop once more. He replied that he was leaving and that I needed to mind my own business. At this point I pulled the handgun from behind me and pointed it at him... telling him once more to sit on the ground... NOW! I fully expected him to comply at this point, but he looked right at me and said, "NO!.. what are you going to do.. Shoot me??" He turned from me, ran over to the car and jumped in while I orded him to stop two more times. I didn't know if he had a weapon in the car or not, so didn't pursue him to the car door. He started the car up and drove off.. I took note of the vehicle description and tag number as he left. Shortly there after the PD arrived. I gave the description and tag number to them, they knew exactly who I described and later that day picked him up at his house.

Tell me what I did wrong.. besides not staying in my house and minding my own business.

Would you protect your neighbor's property? Btw, this woman is one of our very good friends too.. not just a "neighbor".
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Old March 22, 2006, 11:37 AM   #2
atlctyslkr
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I think what you tried to do was a really noble thing but unfortunately most states don't allow you to use deadly force to defend your own property much less someone else's. I think in that situation I might have gone out there with my gun (concealed) and waited for the individual to come out and I would have photographed him. Maybe photographed the vehicle and tried to get the plate as well.

What you were doing was taking on the the role of law enforcement. Check your state statues to see if you can use deadly force to stop a felony (of an kind). I know that if I'm in a store and someone tries to hold it up I can shoot the agressor even if I haven't been personally threatened but I don't think I can use a firearm to stop a burglary.

Your situation brings up a good point. Threatening to use deadly force when you can't can actually put you in a real bad situation. Some states see that as YOU being the agressor.

There is a story I read a few weeks ago about a guy in Tennessee who did something similar to what you did and ended up shooting the robber, now he is a felon. I'll try to find it an post it.

I'm on your side it's the law that isn't! Alot of places allow private citizens to join a Sherriff's reserve or something like that. Gives you limited LE powers but allows you to play cop if you want in situations like this.
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Old March 22, 2006, 11:46 AM   #3
invention_45
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I think I would have gotten the tag # and called the police.

But if I felt compelled to do more, I would have to keep in mind that you have no standing to protect your neighbor's property. If I wanted to try to do so anyway (and this is a really big if), I'd go outside with gun tucked away but with a camera out. Snap a photo of him, staying well inside your property line. This may cause him to come to you for your camera.

Once he crosses the line, things are different. In Florida, you are allowed to use whatever force necessary to remove a trespasser. I doubt that having your photo taken could be a defense against trespassing, so you are now within your rights to force him to leave as long as he's pursuing the camera, which you, of course, don't give him.

This would end with one of three results. The bad guy says screw it and just leaves, you still have the photo. Or. The bad guy pursues the camera and, in the meantime, the cops show up. Or. The bad guy pursues the camera and, in your efforts to remove him from your property, things escalate to where deadly force is needed.

However, considering that Murphy will be watching over you throughout the entire event, maybe it's better just to call the cops and be done with it.
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Old March 22, 2006, 11:49 AM   #4
Dan M.
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It could be argued, Gomer, that you put yourself in jeopardy twice--once from the BG, who may have been armed, and then again if the police arrived to find an armed man standing in a yard. Someone else's microwave (or other stuff) isn't worth the danger to you or the legal ramifications. Remember--you can only justifiably draw your weapon and shoot under immediate and unavoidable danger of death or great bodily harm. Neither one of those qualifications applied in this case. It's admirable that you wanted to protect your neighbor's stuff, especially with her being a single mom who undoubtedly struggles to provide for her two kids. But she probably has home owners insurance. Even if she didn't, she'd rathe have you as an across the street neighbor than an in jail neighbor or worse yet, a dead neighbor. The scenario could've played out much worse. Getting the tag and a description, which you ended up doing, was the best way to go.
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Old March 22, 2006, 11:59 AM   #5
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When he was in the house I would probably given him a flat tire or two...
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Old March 22, 2006, 12:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Tell me what I did wrong.. besides not staying in my house and minding my own business.
More than one way to skin a cat.

You know, rather than confronting the guy, I think I would have just pulled the van out of my own driveway and blocked his exit. Then gone back into my own house, quick.

Reading your story, I thought you were going to grab his keys and get back to your house in a hurry. That would have worked too.

(I'm a coward. I'm just trying to think of ways to stop the guy without confronting him. You were fortunate he decided to run rather than attacking you. Bullets go both directions.)

Edited to add, one more thing. You should've got the tag number first in any case. Too chancy to glance at it while he's leaving -- though I know you didn't expect him to leave!

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Old March 22, 2006, 12:24 PM   #7
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Never ever pull a gun and point it at someone unless you intend to use it. Unless human life is involved just get the info and call PD. Your life is worth a whole lot more than a microwave or any other replaceable property. Chalk this one up to experience and move on. Just my .02 cents!
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Old March 22, 2006, 01:32 PM   #8
JackB03
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Finally....

He man, its good that you'd stand up for your good friend like that. I would have probably done the same thing. I like how you went behind the tree. I dont know if you did this, but maybe you shouldve allowed to profile him some more. Making sure he didnt have a gun on him. Also, you could've allowed him to keep stealing things out of the house while the PD was on there way. If he closed his trunk before the PD got there, then you could've pulled the guy and told him to stop. (NOTE: I would check to see if you can use a firearm against a felon in your state.)

If you can use a firearm, this is the scenario I would use. Maybe you couldve ran to the porch by the door, and when he came out with the microwave, tackle him or pull the guy. Hold him until the PD come. If he runs, shoot him in the leg. I know it may sound fullish to some, but you stopped the guy. He isnt going anywhere.

Thats me though.

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Old March 22, 2006, 02:00 PM   #9
nefshooter
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That is the reason i carry OC pepper foam along with my Taurus 85. A face full of that he sure isn't going to be driving off!!!!! It's not deadly force you just hope you die!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:barf:
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Old March 22, 2006, 02:44 PM   #10
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Personally, I think the better approach would to been to arm yourself, have your wife grab a video camera (if available) to record the events, car, perp, etc.; confront the guy, and then just let him leave. I wouldn't have showed the gun unless he had a weapon. It's completely noble what you did but property can be replaced. I'd rather have a good amount of evidence to find the guy rather than get into an armed confrontation. That's just my simplistic opinion.
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Old March 22, 2006, 02:48 PM   #11
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Remember--you can only justifiably draw your weapon and shoot under immediate and unavoidable danger of death or great bodily harm.


NOT TRUE.

In Texas you can draw your weapon anytime in an attempt to apprehend or in attempt to prevent a felony from happening. That doesn't mean you can threaten to kill them. But you can draw down and detain.
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Old March 22, 2006, 03:17 PM   #12
PinnedAndRecessed
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Quote:
you can draw your weapon anytime in an attempt to apprehend
And if they refuse? How much latitude does one have in such an "attempt?"

Call me old school, but a weapon should only be drawn with the intent of using it. And one should only use a weapon if one's life is in danger. Maybe even if one's property is in danger.

But never to protect a neighbor's microwave.

Just curious. How did the man know she was gone? What "business" was our hero supposed to ignore? What was the relationship of the man and the woman?
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Old March 22, 2006, 03:40 PM   #13
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I'm not saying I would have done the same thing. However, you can be justified in drawing to apprehend. If they refuse? In your own home,shoot. In your neighbors home, just call the cops. I wouldnt draw in this guys scenario. I was just saying that you ARE justified in drawing in such a situation. would you? That is your call, but you can in Texas, that is all I'm saying.
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Old March 22, 2006, 04:08 PM   #14
gomer
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Quote:
Just curious. How did the man know she was gone? What "business" was our hero supposed to ignore? What was the relationship of the man and the woman?
Come to find out later he was a one time member of her church that had gotten addicted to pain killers after an accident where he hurt his back badly. He knew she had two kids who attended school/daycare and that she would be gone during the day. Besides stealing the microwave and other electronics, he had cleaned her medicine cabinet out.

I've had a few months now to reflect back upon my actions that day and that experience, coupled with the advice from some of you guys have changed the way I'd handle something like that in the future.
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Old March 22, 2006, 04:43 PM   #15
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Wow, interesting story. I always gain the most value out of these real-life events and think one actual event is worth 100 "scenarios". It is easy to Monday QB but I think I would have 1) called 911, then 2) took pictures of the burgler and his vehicle. Since you had two people, you and your wife I would say have wife call 911, then have wife takes pictures then, determine if you could safely disable the vehicle W/O burgler seeing you. That's a big if, because what if he is armed. Are you willing to have an armed confrontation because he sees you flattening his tire(s)? If you can get to the car right as he walks into the house I'd say you have a good chance of getting the keys or flattening a tire or cutting a radiator hose before he gets back out if you work real fast but I don't know if even getting out of your house is worth it in this case.
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Old March 22, 2006, 04:54 PM   #16
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I too thought you were going to take the keys. I think that would have brilliant.
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Old March 22, 2006, 05:04 PM   #17
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Your actions were admirable and I would be glad to have more neighbors like you. Many people now a days don't want to get involved in anything that does not affect them. My old house was burglerized a few years back and the method of entry was a brick through a sliding glass door. I'm not sure how many of my neighbors are home during the day but someone had to have heard something. Most people even ignore burglar alarms rather than call the police.

You did take a personal risk though and I would have told the police that the crime was in progress. This is much more urgent than sending someone over to write a report. If the estimated response time was short, I would have either photographed or video taped the burglar. I would have also gotten the vehicle description and license plate first as mentioned above. I think a face full of mace would also be a good way to stop the person so the police have more time to respond. I don't think I would have used my car to block him in and force a confrontation though.

All in all, they got the bad guy and you weren't injured. I would have to say good job.
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Old March 22, 2006, 05:31 PM   #18
jcoiii
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TN code annotated 39-11-614

in brief- you may use force to defend your property, but not deadly force with the following stipulations:
"...force is immediately necessary to prevent or terminate the other's trespass...or unlawful interference.."
or if you have been unlawfully dispossessed and want to immediately recover it.
TCA 39-11-615
"a person is justified in threatening or using force against another to protect real or personal property of a third person if, under the cirumstances of as the person reasonably believes them to be, the person would be justified under 39-11-614 in threatening or using force to protect the person's own real or personal property."

As I read these, in TN, a neighbor can use less than deadly force in the above scenario. Pepper spray, physical restraint, etc is fine. A firearm (or any other deadly force) is not.
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Old March 22, 2006, 05:31 PM   #19
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Quote:
I think a face full of mace would also be a good way to stop the person so the police have more time to respond.
With all due respect, friends, you need to seriously consider what you're saying.

If such a situation arose, you would not know the specifics. You would not know the relationship between the parties involved. Maybe the man breaking in was the jilted boyfriend. Maybe it was his microwave. Maybe it was nothing more than a domestic dispute. Maybe they had a lover's quarrel.

Consider the following scenario. And I say "scenario" as in hypothetical. (On another forum I did similarly but some idiot was too stupid to understand the hypothetical part.)

Anyway, here you are. You witness the above. You rush over, without knowing the facts. You mace this guy. He's screaming. His girlfriend, the owner of the house comes home. She's not mad at him, anymore, because he's on the ground screaming. Now she's calling the cops on you.

The cops show up and bust you for felonious assault. Both she and the man are pressing charges.

You can't just go macing people. You can't just pull a gun on people. And before you resort to any form of violence or threat of violence you had bloody well better know what the laws are in your respective state.
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Old March 22, 2006, 05:36 PM   #20
jcoiii
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P&R,
I think a Defense Atty could apply the "reasonable" defense and you'd be ok. Add to that the fact that this is not a "scenario" but an actual event in which the neighbors knew each other. Given the totality of circumstances, I'd say intervention would be more than fine in this case.

In your scenario, you don't know the neighbor due to the fact that you don't know if the "burgler" is the SO or not. It's an entirely different set of facts in this hypothetical than what actually occured. I know my neighbors and many of their friends (at least enough to recognize their cars and faces). In the case the OP posted, he knew the neighbors and also knew that this person did not live in the neighborhood. Given that knowledge set, it's unlikely that he'd interrupt his neighbor's SO and thus place himself in the consequences you described.
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Old March 22, 2006, 06:31 PM   #21
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First and foremost, I think gomer did what we all want our neighbors to do -- be caring enough about their neighbors to take positive action and help keep our neighborhoods safe.

With regards to the actions, I'll admit that I was rooting for gomer through his scenario -- hoping the PD arrived to find the BG down in the "felony prone" position. However, with state laws varying so much it is difficult to use a "one size fits all" answer.

As to Mr. PinnedandRecessed who keeps asking what the relationship is between the intruder/burglar and the female resident -- it's an irrelevant point. Re-read the initial scenario. Guy backs into the driveway, opens trunk. Okay, so he's been asked to take her [fill in blank] to be repaired. Suspicious, but not illegal. But then he walks up and kicks the door in -- without knocking, ringing the bell or otherwise trying to determine if anyone is home. That's what the cops would call serious probable cause. If he'd been invited to perform some task or had a key, he'd have paused to unlock the door or knock. Neither happened, so the logical "reasonable man" presumption is that this is a burglary (at least) in progress.

Were it me, I think I would have waited for him to be walking away from me and yelled "DON'T MOVE!", then followed that quickly with "Set that down and put your hands on top of your head, NOW!" If he complies, the next item is to get him to kneel down and remain that way until the cops arrive. If he turns around, as described and asks if you're going to shoot him, respond "Only if you make a move." The next decision is his. (Whether you shoot him or not is up to you and any threat he presents).

I should note that if your local PD has a history of long response times it's not a good thing to try apprehension like this. If several minutes go by and the PD doesn't show up, your BG might get the idea they AREN'T coming and try to force your hand.
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Old March 22, 2006, 06:37 PM   #22
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I can't say that I would have done the same, but at the same time I see nothing wrong with your actions. NOBODYS spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend enters the house with peacefull intent by kicking in the front door. I don't give a damn what his need for the microwave was...

I would have probably aired out the guys tires and let him deal with it while waiting for the police.
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Old March 22, 2006, 06:40 PM   #23
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I think you did good!
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Old March 22, 2006, 07:05 PM   #24
PythonGuy
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What you did is probably illegal in most states, you'd go to jail and never own a gun again. Your life wasn't threatened, get the plate number and call 911, that's all you should have done. I know all the "hero's" and "tough guys" on here will tell you how great you did, I hope that gives you solace when you are in jail and spending your life saving to defend your decision.
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Old March 22, 2006, 07:51 PM   #25
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Stand immediately in front of the care and instruct the guy to stay put.
If he puts the car in gear you are now in danger of grave bodily harm.
Step to the side and fire.
You also could have put yourself between the perp and the exit from the house. When he approaches after being warned you are entitled to take this as a threat and fire.
Now you now why the police like to block the exit.
No one said interrupting a crime in progress was a safe activity.
Even in Texas, you will go a lot further in court if the perp threatened your life.

And law be dammed, I am not going to kill someone over property.
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