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Call or look up what BATF defines as a booby trap. Whether you agree or not with their definition that will determine if charges are warranted.
 

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While I think the man is legally on thin ice, it is nice to see thieves mess themselves in the act. I hear so much about packages getting stolen from porches, but I rarely hear about the thieves getting caught and prosecuted. I put cameras on my porch as a deterrent for this very reason. But even when people are caught on camera, nothing happens to them unless someone else can identify them. I can sympathize with someone wanting to get a little payback.
 

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While I wouldn't say the homeowner did anything illegal, it was irresponsible. I'm all for making sure people don't go around snatching packages, but I wouldn't say firearms are the answer for petty theft, even if just blanks are being used. The way I see it, the guns (or ammo, even blanks) don't come out unless somebody's life is in danger. Period.

Although this guy didn't break any laws, he still had to deal with unwanted and unnecessary police attention. Furthermore, if this device did manage to hurt someone (even some idiot claiming that it gave them tinnitus) the homeowner has opened himself up to all sorts of lawsuits. I think the same effect could be accomplished with some sirens and strobe lights. If you want to get serious about stopping a package thief, get a big dog to defend the front porch.
 

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Discussion Starter #45
While I wouldn't say the homeowner did anything illegal, it was irresponsible. I'm all for making sure people don't go around snatching packages, but I wouldn't say firearms are the answer for petty theft, even if just blanks are being used. The way I see it, the guns (or ammo, even blanks) don't come out unless somebody's life is in danger. Period.

Although this guy didn't break any laws, he still had to deal with unwanted and unnecessary police attention. Furthermore, if this device did manage to hurt someone (even some idiot claiming that it gave them tinnitus) the homeowner has opened himself up to all sorts of lawsuits. I think the same effect could be accomplished with some sirens and strobe lights. If you want to get serious about stopping a package thief, get a big dog to defend the front porch.


That is just about a guaranteed lawsuit, not to mention jeopardizing the well-being of one's dogs.
 

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Curious, I poked around the Revised Code of Washington:

See definition 15 at Chapter 70.74 RCW: WASHINGTON STATE EXPLOSIVES ACT : Tthe term "improvised device" means a device which is fabricated with explosives or destructive, lethal, noxious, pyrotechnic, or incendiary chemicals and which is designed, or has the capacity, to disfigure, destroy, distract, or harass.

Then go to 70.74.022(1); 70.74.275; 70.74.295.

If a DA wanted to make this guy's life difficult for a while, he probably could. Conviction? Dunno. I suppose the city might want to say to the guy "Get a camera or make a package that makes an electronic noise. It's not you with your little shot shell we're worried about, it's the jackass that makes a bomb after watching the news report. "
 

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As long as it isn't likely to inflict injury, I'm having a hard time seeing where the homeowner is wrong:

Tacoma man creates ?boom box? to deter package thefts ? and police say that could be a crime | The Seattle Times

Nothing like an official spokesperson not knowing what they are talking about:

Tacoma police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said she doesn’t think Barrow’s box serves as a deterrent or is a good idea.“If the would-be package thief is hurt in any way, the homeowner would be responsible,” Cool said.She also said she thinks what Barrow’s doing might be a crime, but it would be up to prosecutors to make a final call. “I believe there are criminal charges, but it would be up to them if they charged or not,” Cool said."
Homeowner is childish.
 

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IANAL but it might go to the statute PEF posted above, and proving the HO had a malicious state of mind. Was it his attempt to prevent theft, as in a passive system like a car alarm, a home alarm, even an exploding dye packet (which might fall under a federal statute), or was it to harass, frighten, punish someone?

In addition, a person might encounter this kind of item without the intent to commit a crime, such as another delivery person, a mail carrier, a person visiting the location, and so on. If an 'innocent' person were to bump it and it went off, it would have a 'trap-like' aspect.

So, malicious, non-specific, unknown danger (say a child bumped it and fell down the steps), no specific guarantee to -stop- a theft per se.

The prosecutor might ask, (if it even went to a jury):

'How did you expect this device to stop a theft? Were you intending to cause fear and panic? What if the device went off in the presence of an innocent person?"

I don't think the use of a device which contains explosive material which is not 'passive', or 'non-specific', and can be contacted outside of any crime (bumping it) is defensible.

o Dye packets are only set off by people stealing money.

o Car alarms are set off by people stealing cars (sure you can bump a car, but that is probably different).

o Home alarms are set off by accident, but that doesn't show an 'intent' to harass or punish and usually it's during a break in, and it's a deterrent and warning, not designed to frighten for no reason.

I'd guess the prosecutor is not going to want to waste his time, but if he tells the jury of the 'harass' part cited above and then pursues a line I lay out above a JURY, which may give a verdict based on opinion, even with no specific guideline, could find the HO guilty.

The prosecutor could probably get the HO to plea it down to public nuisance, or disturbance, and just accept a fine, which would be a deterrent to anyone else trying to do this.

HO should not have used an -actual- explosive to make the noise (how about a dog bark alarm - it's a 'dog warning' to get back it shows 'intent to deter or protect property).

Best approach is to get a fine, write something to address this into the existing law to prevent this kind of thing, and get it on the news 'anyone attempting this may be guilty of felony harassing using an explosive', which even if not defensible, "sounds" scary, and tell the HO to knock it off.
 

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Lots of mights and could-be's. Is the homeowner breaking the law? That is the crux of my post.
I think it would be considered a "dangerous ordinance" that left unattended is illegal.
 
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Might be better to leave a box of canine "special agent #2" for them to take home...with a Happy Holidays card inside. :image035:
 
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Discussion Starter #52
I think it would be considered a "dangerous ordinance" that left unattended is illegal.
Looking up the definition of dangerous ordnance with several sources, a blank cartridge does not seem to fit the bill.
 
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Discussion Starter #54
Reply imbedded.

IANAL but it might go to the statute PEF posted above, and proving the HO had a malicious state of mind. Was it his attempt to prevent theft, as in a passive system like a car alarm, a home alarm, even an exploding dye packet (which might fall under a federal statute), or was it to harass, frighten, punish someone?
Probably not an approach I would use, but if I did, my sole intent would be theft prevention. The set-up used by the homeowner (unlike a dye pack, which actually does explode and pose a health threat) was clearly not explosive and posed no direct threat of harm.
In addition, a person might encounter this kind of item without the intent to commit a crime, such as another delivery person, a mail carrier, a person visiting the location, and so on. If an 'innocent' person were to bump it and it went off, it would have a 'trap-like' aspect. As stated in the story, the device could only be activated by picking it up and attempting to remove it away from the door. Nothing trap-like about that.

So, malicious, non-specific, unknown danger (say a child bumped it and fell down the steps), no specific guarantee to -stop- a theft per se. Again, a deterrent, not a stopper, and not subject to activation by a mere bump.

The prosecutor might ask, (if it even went to a jury):

'How did you expect this device to stop a theft? Were you intending to cause fear and panic? What if the device went off in the presence of an innocent person?"The device posed no risk of physical injury. The intent is to deter would-be thieves.

I don't think the use of a device which contains explosive material which is not 'passive', or 'non-specific', and can be contacted outside of any crime (bumping it) is defensible. It does not contain explosive material. It contains a noise-maker.

o Dye packets are only set off by people stealing money. While this device is only set off by people attempting to remove another's property from their residence.

o Car alarms are set off by people stealing cars (sure you can bump a car, but that is probably different). A car alarm is more easily set off innocently than this device is.

o Home alarms are set off by accident, but that doesn't show an 'intent' to harass or punish and usually it's during a break in, and it's a deterrent and warning, not designed to frighten for no reason.Yes, this device also serves as both a deterrent and a warning. Nothing malicious about it.

I'd guess the prosecutor is not going to want to waste his time, but if he tells the jury of the 'harass' part cited above and then pursues a line I lay out above a JURY, which may give a verdict based on opinion, even with no specific guideline, could find the HO guilty.

The prosecutor could probably get the HO to plea it down to public nuisance, or disturbance, and just accept a fine, which would be a deterrent to anyone else trying to do this.

HO should not have used an -actual- explosive to make the noise (how about a dog bark alarm - it's a 'dog warning' to get back it shows 'intent to deter or protect property).Again, what he used does not meet the legal definition of explosive.

Best approach is to get a fine, write something to address this into the existing law to prevent this kind of thing, and get it on the news 'anyone attempting this may be guilty of felony harassing using an explosive', which even if not defensible, "sounds" scary, and tell the HO to knock it off.A fine for what? He broke no laws that we have been made aware of.
 
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Reply imbedded.
Bear in mind you asked what laws did he break and PEF seemed to find one. I was conjecturing what some prosecutor might say. I agree it's not an obvious threat, trap, and by itself sitting on the porch where nobody could get to it, it's inert.

If it was inside someone's fence and they had a 'no solicitors' sign that had some force of law, IDK, perhaps it would not be actionable. Since this porch didn't have a fence, maybe that makes a difference.

It is a 'barrel of $100 bills' problem. Costly to defend if some prosecutor decides to make an issue of it.

Again, I think past what PEF said, it's a non-starter. I think the guy would be wise to remove it and do something else.
 

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Discussion Starter #58
Really? Have you ever seen a blank? What do you think makes the noise? :confused:
The rapid burning of slightly-pressurized propellent. Not an explosion in either the scientific or legal sense.
 
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I love it but, the first person who dies on his porch from a heart attack, the boom box owner will most probably loose more than a box from his porch. A slight stroke where the person lives may cost him whatever care that person needs for the rest of his life. If he placed the box inside the house on a table infront of the window And the person broke in to get it, might be a different story.

Sadly the criminals have more protections and rights than the property owners.
That's what I'm thinking...so would posting a "No Trepassing" sign on front porch or down on sidewalk be enough? (Also, would Fed Ex, UPS, etc know they were exempt?)
 
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The prosecutor might ask, (if it even went to a jury):

'How did you expect this device to stop a theft? Were you intending to cause fear and panic? What if the device went off in the presence of an innocent person?"

Distract and deter the thief. By the noise, call attention to his actions and presence to neighbors/homeowner. Thus giving them the opportunity to identify or even stop theft.

What if someone snuck up on porch to do the same thing and a big dog rushed the window and barked very loudly? To me, it's the same thing. It could scare someone enough to give them a heart attack.

IMO a 'no trespassing' sign should protect the owner (just like a 'beware of dog' sign) would prepare someone for that. Just how much known risk are people allowed to accept for themselves and then expect the law to back them up? (i.e., Knowing there was a dog, knowing you were not allowed on the porch)
 
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