Catching a thief.... what to do?

Catching a thief.... what to do?

This is a discussion on Catching a thief.... what to do? within the Carry & Defensive Scenarios forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I was sitting here reading a recent post by retsupt99. His car was broken into and stuff was taken... 1 of 10 robberies in the ...

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Thread: Catching a thief.... what to do?

  1. #1
    Distinguished Member Array BIG E's Avatar
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    Catching a thief.... what to do?

    I was sitting here reading a recent post by retsupt99. His car was broken into and stuff was taken... 1 of 10 robberies in the same night.

    I had the same thing happen to me last year. So I got to thinking...

    A noise wakes you up and you look out the window to find that someone is in your car stealing all of your self help cds, stereo and all of your old gun porn mags.

    What is the move here?

    1. Do you barge out in your underwear wielding your shotgun while screaming "freeze punk"?

    2. Do you call the cops and sneak out the back door pistol in hand, surprise the BG at gunpoint and hold him until the cops arrive?

    3. Or do you just call the cops from inside your home while maintaining your safety and chalking it up to "sure they took some old crap, but I am safe"?


    First of all I know laws are different for every state, but what is legal for you in this situation? Can you legally forcibly detain someone if you catch someone breaking into your car? I can see a lawsuit if you were to throw the BG to the ground breaking his arm.

    What about your neighbors car or home?

    Is there such a thing as a citizens arrest?

    I have to say that I would be the guy sneaking out the back door trying to catch the guy. I figure that if he is here to break into my car now, then it is just a matter of time before he is back to break into my home.

    In my situation I actually teamed up with a guy a couple of houses away that had a couple of grand worth of stereo equipment stolen. We were both robbed the same night along with 5 others. He had some connections and had his ear to the ground. Some kids were talking and knew who did the deed.

    We ended up tracking down the kid at his house around 1am and having a chat with his very very surprised father. The kid gave up the ghost after some prodding.

    Half the stuff was gone and the other half was in his fathers tool shed under a tarp. He had some of the stolen stereo speakers already installed in his car.


    The cops were called and action was taken.

    Now I pursued this BG because I knew he was a kid. My actions may have been different if I had known otherwise.


    What are your thoughts?
    Don't hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit soft!

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  2. #2
    VIP Member Array raevan's Avatar
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    Call the Police, nothing you own is worth losing your life over. Never put yourself at risk, he heads for your house wait inside armed, stay on the phone to 911 and tell them waht is happening, if he breaks into you house defend yourself, the 911 recording will back you up.

  3. #3
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    In the past I have tossed myself headlong into potentially dangerous situations to protect property.
    Now...too many people depend on me being alive & well for me to act irresponsibly.
    Fear has nothing to do with it.
    Running out of the house to beat the crap out of some crooked goofball druggie & by chance catching a stray bullet over a doggone car is no longer a luxury that I can enjoy.
    I pay for vehicle insurance and these days I'd call the cops.
    In Pennsylvania we cannot use deadly force to protect property anyway.
    For sure I'll feel violated discovering that my car has been busted into...but probably not nearly as violated as I'd feel having a catheter shoved up me while I'm slipping in & out of a coma in the trauma ward.

  4. #4
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    disturbing visual Qk...
    The Problem: When stupid people do stupid things, smart people end up getting killed.

  5. #5
    VIP Member Array PatrioticRick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bando View Post
    disturbing visual Qk...
    Very disturbing
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  6. #6
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by a_kayaker View Post
    A noise wakes you up and you look out the window to find that someone is in your car stealing all of your self help cds, stereo and all of your old gun porn mags.
    Insured items are replaceable. A life is not. For me, mere satisfaction of stopping a burglary is pitiful justification, with insured items. If the choice exists, I'd opt for: digicam, to record the fool's actions; phone, to invite the cavalry to meet a new tenant for their 24x7 rectal research wing; firearm(s), to guard against the BG attacking me/family in the home.

    Now, every situation's different. If I were to find myself in a situation where I surprised the burglar(s) (and myself), such as when coming home, I'd immediately draw my weapon in defense of myself and demand they identify themselves and cease their actions. If they did, they'd either leave or be on the ground awaiting arrival of the cavalry. If they subsequently attacked me for my arrogance at stopping their crime, I'd defend against that second crime (the violent attack of my person) to the degree required to stop it. Though, none of that is preferable when there's a clear, alternative choice available.

    Ensconced position on ground of my choosing, where I've got tactical surprise, darkness, eyes already adjusted to low light, cover and communications on my side ... or, give all of that up to directly confront a BG at contact distances, with possible supporting BG's nearby, on uneven/unfamiliar ground in the dark, with little/no cover? The question is simple: what would it take for me to drop all tactical advantages? For me, only when life is on the line. Never otherwise, unless that option didn't exist.
    Last edited by ccw9mm; November 22nd, 2006 at 05:13 AM.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
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  7. #7
    Member Array Sonic Misfit's Avatar
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    Here in Texas, if someone is stealing property at night, then it could be considered justifiable to shoot. However, the downside is that you will have tons of paperwork, expense in hiring a lawyer, etc. Unless the BG makes a move to get into the house, I would call the police and wait until they got there to handle the situation. I never leave anything valuable in the vehicles.

  8. #8
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    I Have A Plan For A Second Visit...

    I was the victim last night. You are right about the 'stuff' being taken...I have insurance and that only bothers me a little; I'm still just a little P/O'd.

    Last night...and this morning, actually, I was up all night, and was around the perimeter of the house.
    If someone were to return to our neighborhood (which they apparently have during the last two weeks) and I saw them anywhere near my house...I can easily go out the back door...this area is all wooded...and I can quietly go along the side of the house and garage completely in the dark. I have plenty of cover and feel very comfortable in shinning a Surefire on someone returning to MY vehicle (because he forgot a CD he wanted) and letting him/her know that it's time to kiss the pavement.

    Why do I care about such visitors? Well, about the same time (I have now found out from police) my car was hit, 5 a.m., my wife was in the hot tub out back. I will challenge any BG illegally on my 'home turf'.

    If Florida, I have a right to use lethal force to stop any threat that I perceive to be life threatening...ANYWHERE...I have a legal right to be. That certainly covers my home turf!

    Return visitors are not welcome at 5 a.m. Yes, 911 would have already been called, and I would be under excellent cover. I would not attempt to chase someone, I wouldn't fire into the air, etc., but I would also defend my home...no questions asked...PERIOD...

    My fear is what will happen next? A break-in? A home invasion? A rape? If someone 'nailed' some BG in our neighborhood...GREAT...I wish no one harm, but a message would be sent via the news...stay out of THAT HOOD...IT COULD BE DANGEROUS.

    I'm no hero, I'm not a cop, but if we don't take control of our own protection (being proactive) who will? I will not hide in my home and hope Mr. BG won't bother me or mine. If more people were aware and proactive on protecting neighboorhoods, we could all live in safer places.

    With me, it's not about protecting my 'stuff'', it's about basic human rights to live in peace knowing my neighbors care about keeping the 'home land' safe for all.

    Wake up folks, if this kind of crap goes on during the 'calm times', what do you think will happen when the SHTF?

    STUFF? Would you protect your food supplies?...that's only stuff! Where do we draw the line? For me, I draw the line when people start invading MY turf.


    OMO...Your Opinion May Vary...

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  9. #9
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    Having good access to 3 depts I am friendly with I am sure if I called in a robbery in progress they would swarm the area. I would not confront them, however much I wish to. My family comes first.
    "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock." Thomas Jefferson


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  10. #10
    Member Array djturnz's Avatar
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    I know what I think I would do, Please let me know if my plan stays from the law.

    I would probably call the police and wait but if I decided to actually do something:

    Call the police first, then go out, shotgun in hand and call "freeze" or something similar. I would hold him at bay until the police arrived as long as he is willing to stand there. If he advances on me, BOOM, if he runs, let him. I think this would be within the law.

  11. #11
    Member Array Cliffh's Avatar
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    retsupt99 said it much more eloquently than I can.

    Taking care of your own means more than dialing 911 and waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for LE to show. "Stuff" may or may not be important, protecting what's ours is.

    It's obvious that the police can not make and/or keep our neighborhoods safe from all crimes. Who does that leave? Our neighbors?

    I'm not sure I can or would stay up all night, at least after the first few nights, but if I were to catch them in the act.... surprising them from behind sounds like the best option.

    Some people may see confronting a BG as escalating the situation. Personally, if he/she decides to not stop their illegal activities and decides to attack, I see that as escalation on their part.

  12. #12
    Distinguished Member Array BIG E's Avatar
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    retsupt99 did a wonderful job summing up my feelings as well.

    I don't think that I could just stand there and watch someone steal from me while on MY property.

    Granted this may not be the best course of action. I also have a family that depends on me to be here and in good health.


    I just couldn't stand there and wait for someone to act on my behalf when I am perfectly capable of standing on my own two feet.



    IMHO
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  13. #13
    Member Array denverd0n's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djturnz View Post
    Call the police first, then go out, shotgun in hand and call "freeze" or something similar. I would hold him at bay until the police arrived as long as he is willing to stand there. If he advances on me, BOOM, if he runs, let him. I think this would be within the law.
    I don't know the law in Pennsylvania. You live there, so you need to. What I can tell you with absolute certainty is that this would NOT be within the law in some states. There are states where simply confronting him with a lethal weapon would make you just as much of a criminal as him.

    Note, I am not talking about what is right, or how things "should" be. I am talking about the law and how a prosecutor would look at it. The bottom line is that you need to know the law in YOUR state! What someone in Texas, or Arizona, or Colorado can or would do is irrelevant to your situation in Pennsylvania. Likewise, what is legal for you to do in Pennsylvania is irrelevant to me living in Colorado.

    Here in Colorado, what you are suggesting would get me into a lot of trouble. We have what is often called a "castle doctrine," which basically means that if he comes into my house uninvited I can assume that he means to do me lethal harm and I can respond with lethal force, even if I see no other evidence of lethal intent on his part. But if he is outside of my house then I have no right to use lethal force unless he offers a lethal threat first. Walking outside and pointing a shotgun at him would mean that I am the one who offered a lethal threat first, and would make me the greater criminal.

    As has been said in so many other situations, the safest thing to do is to take cover, call the police, be a good witness, and do not draw your weapon until you are faced with an imminent lethal threat. If you are SURE that your state laws allow you to do more then that is your choice. If you are NOT sure about your state's laws then you have some studying to do.

  14. #14
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    Not to get ticky tacky, buts its a theft, not a robbery.

    I think in most situations like this, get a good look, perhaps some pictures and keep tabs on their where abouts until LE arrives. If your concern is to just make them go away, turn on your exterior lights.

  15. #15
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    I Can Go With Either Term...

    Quote Originally Posted by SIXTO View Post
    Not to get ticky tacky, buts its a theft, not a robbery.

    I think in most situations like this, get a good look, perhaps some pictures and keep tabs on their where abouts until LE arrives. If your concern is to just make them go away, turn on your exterior lights.
    Theft is fine with me...I appreciate the attention to nomenclature...

    Oh, and yes...I will be able to light up the place...but it's going to look more like a strobe light than a flood light...

    ret
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