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Old April 21, 2002, 10:29 PM   #1
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Someone Tried to Break Into My House!

Ok, Im posting under a different name cause I dont know what legal outcomes might happen, but I don't think anything will happen at all. Ok, here is waht happened:
Background: Less than a week ago my parents moved out on this house to another one about 20 miles away, and for the last 3 weeks this house has been up for sale. There is a 6 foot fence around the entire back yard and we have heavy iron storm/security doors with plexi(sp?) glass front and back and an attached screenroom out back and we live in a nice "low crime" area.

The event: At a about 1:30 this morining 4/21 I was about to go to bed from a night of reading TFL, Glocktalk, and other boards(no joke!), when I heard my rear screenroom door open and close. I'm thinking to myself who the heck would be in my backyard at this time of night. So I grab my Sig 229 in .40 and went to investagate the noise. When I get to the back door I hear what sounds like to be a drill or a small electric motor going. I look out through a small glass window in the door and see a man working at the lock of the iron door. Here is where I get dumb and stay that way till about 6pm. As he is still working on the door I take my keys and start to open the interior door. When I finally get it unlocked I hit the light switch for the screenroom and swing the interior door open(there is still the iron door between us and it is still locked)anI pointed my gun right at his head. He was wearing a ball cap and had a black bandana around his face, so all i saw was his eyes, and when the looked down that barrel of my Sig they grew to wide whie saucers. At that point he did an about face flew out the screen door and fell in the backyard, then kept running to the fence where it looked like he leaped it in a single bound. After he went over the fence about 5 seconds later I heard what I think was a pickup truck take off.
The aftermath: I was(and still am)very shaken for the rest of the night, and I only had about 2 and 1/2 hours of sleep, so I apologize for any spelling mistakes. I did not call the cops untill 6pm, hence the dumbness. I called my parents at about 5 pm when i got home from work and I talked to a few of my neighbors about what happened. They told me that they have seen a truck driving through the neighborhood quite a lot recently(could mean nothing). Then I finally called the cops and 2 came by to talk. I told them what happened and they took down the report, they also told me that they might have seen my parents move out and thought the house was empty and maybe there were some easy pickins, and that they might have even hit my next door neighbors house since they were out of town(very obvious). Now I have to worry about this and it is the week of finals for me at school. I'm glad that I recenlty turned 21 and got myself a gun. I don't know what would have happened if I did not have it or if he got in the house, but Im very thankful that I stayed up last night and had a gun. Oh, and the cops said that I did good and if i did open fired it would have been justified cause the screen room is considered part of the house since it is attached and my state has a castle law. I'm also thankful that he, the BG, decided to turn tail and run when he did. Anyway this has been my first and only(I hope) SHTF situation. Please try not to flame me to much, But how would any of you have handled this?
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Old April 21, 2002, 11:03 PM   #2
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Almost exactly like you did, with a very few changes:

1. As I stand and observe the guy work the lock, I am on the phone with 911. I will wait for this guy to actually get into the house, and for him to let the door close. I will then put the beam of a full sized Mag Lite in his face, and gently persuade him to assume the prone position.

2. I will then turn on the main lights. Because I have maintained contact with the dispatcher through all of this, I will announce that I have one at gunpoint, and give a description of myself.

Don't push yourself too hard. You did great.

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Old April 21, 2002, 11:14 PM   #3
Josh Smith
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I would have....

.... gotten to cover and called the cops while covering the room with my handgun (or better yet, long gun).

Legally speaking, what you did could have put you in a sticky situation should you have had to shoot.

Always assume shots fired means you're gonna go before a jury. This is doubly so if you actually hit the guy.

Let's examine what may have happened in court:

Prosecutor: Mr. Johncs, will you please describe the happenings of April _st to the court?

You: (recite your post)

Prosecutor: So, Mr. Johncs, what you are telling the court is that you willfully and intentionally took the life of another human being who was not directly threatening you, when you had an avenue of retreat? Answer truthfully, I remind you you're under oath.

You: Yes.

In short, the prosector could make you to look like a cold blooded killer, intent on taking human life over over a matter of property.

What would be the jury's reaction to that?

Now, if you had dialed 911 from behind cover, the jury would see that you were simply in fear for your life and defending yourself. It would look even better if you could introduce the 911 call as evidence, as the jury could hear you telling the intruder to drop the gun/crowbar/ax/whatever.

If I'm not too clear tonight I apologize- I'm a bit tired. This is my take on the situation. Summed up it is only this: Wait for the bg to come to you whenever possible. It just looks better in court and most likely won't hang you. Retreat whenever possible and let the cops handle it if they get there in time (big if, I know). If you're not a peace officer do not intentionally go into harm's way unless you have absolutely no other choice.

Discretion is the better part of valor.

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Old April 21, 2002, 11:19 PM   #4
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Too bad you didn't kill the SOB. Of course there is less red tape the way you handled it.
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Old April 22, 2002, 05:24 AM   #5
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I think you handled it very well.People like that are just looking for an easy mark and you sure scared them.
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Old April 22, 2002, 07:25 AM   #6
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You did good. You are still alive, and thankfully didn't have to fire a shot. You came out on top, that's all that matters.
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Old April 22, 2002, 08:45 AM   #7
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In Texas, you could have used lethal force on the guy as he was doing a crime on your property. El Chivatos concerns would be moot. The only legal problems you might have had would have been the civil suit filed by his family. He is correct in that waiting for the bad guy to come to you, as opposed to what you did, could be a whole lot better for you, if not in court, then from a tactical standpoint.

Glad the situation worked out. Better courses of action would have been to call 911 and at least let the police know you had a problem. Even if they didn't arrive in time to catch the guy, should you have gotten injured, at least somebody would have found you.

I don't know that I would have done things differently than you, but another good idea would have been to make noise, flick lights, whatever, just so as to let the bad guy know he was not burgling an unoccupied home or a home with people who are asleep.

One of the best ways for you to survive a confrontation is by not having it. You survived this one, but you forced the confrontation such that you brough yourself to the point where you and the bad guy were in proximity to one another. In other words, you brought yourself into a potentially very dangerous situation where you were not in contol of the environment. I might have been better to remain camped out inside and wait for the guy to actually try to come in the door before forcing the confrontation. It is not good to let people get inside, but at the door is a choke point and you could have been in a position of where the burglar would never see you. By exposing yourself to the burglar as you did, you exposed yourself to a situation and area for which you had no control and had not cleared. If you left him come int the door, then he is entering an area over which you have control and know to be cleared. Compare this with the next paragraph.

I noticed from the description of the events that you never mentioned scanning any other areas. You seem to have been fixated on the door being burgled. You are fortunate that the guy did not have a partner. When you flicked on the lights and illuminated the bad guy, you undoubtedly illuminated yourself and hence he could see your gun. Being illuminated yourself means that his partner could have taken you out at that point, assuming he had a partner. In other words, you appear to have been situationally unaware of anything outside of the immediate events concerning the door.

You are lucky as bad guys often work in teams.

Just curious, you mentioned grabbing your Sig. Did you grab a spare magazine? Eye protection? Ear protection?
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Old April 22, 2002, 11:07 AM   #8
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Prosecutor: So, Mr. Johncs, what you are telling the court is that you willfully and intentionally took the life of another human being who was not directly threatening you, when you had an avenue of retreat? Answer truthfully, I remind you you're under oath.
Defense attorney: Objection! Argumentative. I further move for a mistrial on the grounds that the prosecution has prejudiced the jury against my client.

If your lawyer doesn't do something along these lines, time for another lawyer. Ditto if he doesn't yell "Exception" if the judge overrules.

There's a legal thing called the "castle doctrine" (i.e., your home is your castle and you have no obligation to retreat inside your own home) that protects you against this kind of thing.

BTW, how come you're on the stand anyway?

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p.s. to johncs: Well done. You are alive and the situation is defused.
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Old April 22, 2002, 12:26 PM   #9
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John - as others have stated, you are unharmed, your property is secured and you didn't have to fire a shot. That's a happy ending, no matter what. Thanks for telling your story. It helps me think through what I might do if ever in a similar situation.
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Old April 22, 2002, 01:28 PM   #10
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"John", I don't know your motives for going to the door, but if it were me, my motives would be to STOP the threat, and INFORM the "would-be-robber" of his danger (armed homeowner.)

I would have used different tactics, but the goal would be the same. I would have grabbed my shotgun, and while remaining behind cover (and on the phone w/ the police), I would have pumped the action on that bad boy, informing the devil himself that he's got trouble coming.

If that doesn't send the perp running, I'd follow it up w/ a verbal warning ("I'm armed and I'm in fear of my life. Drop your weapons and go away or I WILL defend myself!"

NOTE: the warning to "drop weapons" is issued ALWAYS, whether or not a weapon is seen.
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Old April 22, 2002, 01:43 PM   #11
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I think you did a good job.

I would have called 911 and perhaps let him work so you can buy time until the police arrived.

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Old April 22, 2002, 02:35 PM   #12
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The NRA Soliliquy

I'm armed and I'm in fear of my life. Drop your weapons and go away or I WILL defend myself!
From the NRA's personal defense video:







Of course, by the time you're finished, the BG is already either out the door or on you.

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Old April 22, 2002, 03:06 PM   #13
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I think we can all learn something from this...

Your back yard shouldn't afford an "easy" exit. When Joe Burglar does an "Oh Bleep!" and starts to beat feet, he should discover rose bushes, planters, assorted ornamental crapola, preferably pointy, etc... Sure, let him get away. If he can still walk after steppin' on that rake...
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Old April 22, 2002, 09:03 PM   #14
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Dude, you did fine.

1. You're alive, and your family's OK, no legal mess.
2. Bad guys are still alive.
3. Your stuff is still there and damage to your home was minimal.

You scored 100%, IMO. As my elementary school report card goes, you may have only gotten a 'B+' for 'effort', but you got an 'A' for 'achievement'.
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Old April 22, 2002, 09:12 PM   #15
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You did good. That BG won't be sneaking around that neighborhood anytime soon. Glad your safe.
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Old April 22, 2002, 09:36 PM   #16
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Ok, the police caught 4 men last night after they broke in to a house in another neighborhood about a mile away. The house was unoccupied and for sale(sound familiar) and the people next door to that house called the cops. They sealed off the area and worked their way into the street. The guys worked in 2 teams and they had someone break in and another wait in the car/truck. The officer that took my report came by and told me about it and told me not to worry and that they are probly the guys that tried to break in to my house. So I will sleep better tonight. Some good things that came out of this though.
My parents now want a gun, so I "sold"(more like gave) my father my Smith and Wesson 686, and I was also shocked that my dad now wants to join the NRA and go to the range.
It also pushed them over the edge for a home alarm system, but I told them just to get a dog, cause they are home 95% of the time anyway. Besides I want one too.

Double Naught Spy- I wear glasses so I did have eye protection, and I always have and extra mag by the gun all the time(mags are the weakest link), but no ear protection. I also have window tint on all of the rear windows of the house. So once I turned on the exterior lights if the guy was not in front of the door he couldnt see me cause all they would see would be themselves.
Anyway I'm glad everything turned out the way it did, and maybe this will all teach us something, and add to our data on home or attempted home invasions. I'm so proud of myself now
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Old April 23, 2002, 09:20 AM   #17
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I think you did know enough to evalulate your situation for tactic's and if not you now know to consider those might want to reconsider external alarms, two furry burglar munchers....external lighting that can be operated from inside and definitely worth considering is a cell phone, compact and powerful hand held or gun mounted light(I dont like this type but they have uses)and the following possibilities might save you or crucify you in ct. is to hook up a video monitor system, radio shack has them and there are can even set one up on a seperate computer system---there are older ones that will function that are inexpensive or ones that you have upgraded from...etc., and Ayoob had a point that I read, have a lawyer on retainer and have the name and contact numbers for bail bonds men in your area, put all that in a folder in your home were your wife and family can get to it, have a contact nbr that you can reach 24/7 to start the ball rolling to get you out if your made sense to me....later, fubsy.
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Old April 23, 2002, 09:34 AM   #18
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GOOD JOB ! ! ! !
You and yours are safe, and the score is now
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I don't have an alarm system, but I do have lots of motion detectors, flood & halogen lights, and an X10 "home automation" system that starts recording "the action" when a motion detector is tripped, and the X10 stuff also sounds chimes in Master BR.
Not to mention BIG dogs (2 Dobies) in yard behind me, medium dogs on both sides (Beagles)
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Old April 23, 2002, 10:37 AM   #19
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Good job and glad they got caught! An earlier call to 911 may be the only thing I'd suggest different. If it'd been me, I'd call the on duty officer on my portable radio and get the handcuffs ready for the guy to get through the door. We'd probably waited for him together inside and, if he's working, have the K9 officer waiting just outside the backyard - Heh! Sigh, but the police car out front ususally deters things like this at my house or the neighbor's.

Another example of the 2 mil/per year instances of defense that guns are instumental in, which we'll never hear about from the mainstream media...
What part of "... shall not be infringed..." don't you understand?

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Old April 23, 2002, 12:20 PM   #20
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You survived so you couldn't have done too bad......let's hope the sight of your sigs barrel made this fellow embark upon another career
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Old April 23, 2002, 09:06 PM   #21
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johncs, very good indeed. For situations like that, when you have time to grab safety equipment, spare mags and such, it is a good idea. I think it was in "Best Possible Defense" that I read of a lady who had fired shots in her home during an encounter. During a later break-in, she didn't make the same mistakes and wore eye and ear protection and found things went better for her.

So they caught four guys? You think they might have been involved in your attempted break-in? If so, then you really were quite fortunate that your fixation on the one burglar jackin' with the door did not cost you.

No matter how critical I was or anyone else, you should be proud of yourself. Post hoc analysis is here simply because you asked for the evaluation. The obvious points of your suvival, protection of the domicile, and lastly not having to shoot anyone are all excellent points and can't be argued with whether they are due to your excellent handling of that particular situation or good fortune. None of the rest of us were there. You can learn from it and next time have the advantage of experience on your side as well as knowledge.

Two sayings that I think speak well of your situation and say basically the same thing are...

God helps those who help themselves. You helped yourself.

But if you are not religious...

Luck favors the prepared mind. You were prepared.
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Old April 24, 2002, 01:06 PM   #22
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I found myself in a similar situation

A couple of years ago I was working in my semi finished basement when I heard someone come into the house through the back door. My wife had'nt returned from work yet. It was about 5:30pm, and my hound dog was really throwing a fit, so I knew that it was definately someone who did'nt belong in the house. At the time I did'nt have any phone lines wired up in the basement. and the basement stairs leading into the kitchen near the back door were the only exit. I did have a 12 gauge pump Mossberg within easy reach, along with plenty of ammo. As it turned out the Perp found himself caught between my Ferocious attack beagle and the muzzle of my shotgun stoked with 00 buck. He was a crack head who had recently moved into the neighborhood, he had gotten into a fight with his girlfriend, also a crackhead who had called the police on him. He was running and trying to hide from them when he entered my house. I held him at gunpoint not taking my eyes off of him while I called the police, Making sure that I let them know that I was armed and holding the Perp. There were already squad cars running up and down the street searching for him. they arrived shortly and arrested him for criminal tresspass. not burglary because the back door was unlocked when he entered. Sadly to say the story does'nt end there. Two nights later same guy arrested for prowling my neighbors house. Tried to run again jumped a fence into a yard with a big Rottweiler and got chewed up a bit before going to jail. A week later I saw both him and his girlfriend arrested again they were walking down the street. That was the last time that I saw either of them. It would be interesting to know why he was out of jail so soon after the incident at my house. I'm thankful that my wife was'nt home alone when this incident occurred. Though she is fairly proficient with firearms. I'm just glad that she did'nt have to experience one of these situations.
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Old April 7, 2005, 05:41 AM   #23
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It would be interesting to know why he was out of jail so soon after the incident at my house.
As crimes go, criminal tresspass is a minor one. He probably made bail the next morning or may have been able to secure a personal bond. It's a messed up system.
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Old April 7, 2005, 09:07 AM   #24
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You did well, much better than me anyway if I was put in the position. My side of town isn't a low crime area so most BG's are armed in one way or another (knife, gun, needle, disease, etc). So if I here some one in my back yard trying to get into my house....well I would have welcomed him in and if it was a sitaution like your where he saw me with one of my girls in my hand and he scattered I would let some shots off into the grass just to scare the living S**T out of him, make him think he got shot.
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Old April 7, 2005, 09:26 AM   #25
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Well Done.

I was going to say it was a shame you did not get a license number of the vehicle first, but I had not considered there might be an accomplice in the truck. Good thing you followed your instincts and not what I was thinking.

I see only one item.
Oh, and the cops said that I did good and if i did open fired it would have been justified cause the screen room is considered part of the house since it is attached and my state has a castle law.
It's always best to get your legal advice from the attorney you have retained to defend you in the event of a shooting. Second choice would be the DA if you have no attorney. Third would be a seasoned civilian defense instructor from your area. Cops give notoriously bad advice in this area. They mean well, but they have a different set of rules and restrictions.

But still, Well Done.
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