Author Topic: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.  (Read 2417 times)

sol

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I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« on: February 01, 2019, 09:28:14 AM »
I live in a quiet neighborhood of cul de sacs, in a good school district, in a place where dads compete over whose lawn looks the best and groups of kids play outside together until after dark.  It is not the sort of place you expect to find property crime.

But I was recently at home in the middle of a weekday when someone tried to rob one of my neighbor's houses.  In broad daylight.

My dogs were inside and barking at this guy walking around the cul de sac with a black baseball cap pulled way down low and a jacket collar pulled way up high.  He was wearing an enormous empty backpack, and just looked shady, so I stopped to check him out through the window.  He appeared to be visually inspecting the front door of each house in turn, so I thought maybe he was a package thief.

After passing up three houses that all had alarm system signs in the front yard, he approached the front door of one of my neighbors and proceeded to ring the doorbell for like three or four minutes.  Waaay past the amount of time a normal person would need to conclude that they weren't home.  Then he hunches down and creeps over to their big front window and spends about ten seconds looking inside, then the slips around the side of the house into the back yard.

That's when I decide to go see what's up.  I'm still wearing bedrooms slippers, but I walk across the street and follow his path around the side of the house, and as I round the corner into the back yard I loudly call out "Can I help you with something?"  I'm a big dude and sometimes physically intimidating, so I've learned to smile broadly and use nonthreatening body language when meeting people for the first time.  It's just habit at this point.  He's trying to open the glass slider in their back yard.  I introduce myself and stick out my hand to shake, and tell him I'm just a neighbor keeping an eye on things, and I ask him what he's up to.  He gets super shifty, mumbles something about how his friend lives there (and gives me a name that does not live there), and then immediately starts walking back to his vehicle.

So I tell him I'll tell them that he stopped by, and I follow him back to the car.  At this point I whip out my cell phone and take a picture of his vehicle and plate number, and the dude (but only from the back because he's trying to get away from me).  He doesn't say another word, just drives off.

It was like ten or fifteen minutes before it occurred to me that I should probably file a police report, so I call the non-emergency number and the cops were here in less than five minutes.  They call a forensics team to take prints, and they take a statement, and they talk to the homeowners when they get home.  They come back the following day with mug shots for me to do a virtual line-up, and they have me sign a witness statement describing what happened. 

After I submitted all of my materials and they were done with me, one of the cops filled me in on the situation.  They ran the plates, and the vehicle he was using belongs to his girlfriend's father, and he has previously been pulled over while driving it.  He is a suspect in other burglaries, and has previously been arrested.  The cops have my photographs of him and his vehicle at the crime scene, along with sworn witness testimony.  And yet they STILL can't make an arrest, for some reason.  I'm kind of pissed about it.

In retrospect, what I was supposed to do was call 911 as soon as I saw him go into the back yard, and then let him actually break into the house while the cops show up.  I thought I was being a good neighbor by stopping a crime in progress, but from a legal standpoint it looks like I let him get away with it by interrupting him.  Peering into windows of empty houses isn't actually a crime.  Without photos of him literally trying to break into the house, which also clearly show his face, they can't prove it was him.  My photos of him hightailing it out of there aren't evidence of a crime. 

So on the one hand, yay I stopped a crime because I'm retired and home during the day, and I kept my neighborhood safe.  On the other, I kind of did a shitty job of it and they weren't able to catch the guy. 

RetiredAt63

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2019, 09:35:57 AM »
Well, by posting it here we all know what to do better if it happens in our neighbourhoods.

I live in the country, my joke with the next door neighbors was - if either of us sees a moving van next door, call the cops.


Candace

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2019, 09:47:36 AM »
I don't have anything specific to offer -- just my thanks that you bothered to intervene. Even if there are a few things you wish you'd done differently, you made a big positive difference in your neighbor's life and in your neighborhood's safety.

I'm not a law enforcement officer nor a lawyer, but with your eyewitness testimony and photographs, it seems to me the police ought to be able to do more. I sympathize with your frustration.

bacchi

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2019, 09:48:25 AM »
Surely walking into the back yard of a house that is known to be unoccupied is trespassing?

I suspect (har!) that the police didn't feel like it was worth their time. I've seen this a few times for minor property crimes, like a bike getting stolen. They didn't even want to file a report, much less show up and look at the camera pics.

G-dog

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2019, 09:53:35 AM »
I saw a  teen trying to jump over the neighbor’s fence - so I called 911. I kept an eye on the kid, and tried to solidify a good description in my memory. Another neighbor confronted him, and the teen took off leaving his bike behind.

Cops arrived, checked out everything, etc.  turns out it was the neighbors’ daughter’s boyfriend! 

Oh well. I tried.

sol

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2019, 09:55:39 AM »
Well, by posting it here we all know what to do better if it happens in our neighbourhoods.

I live in the country, my joke with the next door neighbors was - if either of us sees a moving van next door, call the cops.

I have replayed my options since then.  One possibility would have been to call the cops first, then go out and disable his vehicle real quick.  Just pop the hood and yank the battery cable or distributor cap, for example.  Or pull all the lug nuts off one wheel.

It sounds like confronting him in person was the wrong choice, for a variety of reasons.

I suspect (har!) that the police didn't feel like it was worth their time. I've seen this a few times for minor property crimes, like a bike getting stolen. They didn't even want to file a report, much less show up and look at the camera pics.

I've certainly seen that in bigger cities, where police are busy chasing down murderers, but where I live an attempted burglary still rates two patrol vehicles within five minutes of the call, and then a forensics team.  I used to have family in east Oakland, and the police there would take a burglary statement over the phone and that was about it.  If you wanted cops at your house down there, you had to tell them you had someone at gunpoint and were about to pull the trigger.

Cellista

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2019, 09:58:19 AM »
"Surely walking into the back yard of a house that is known to be unoccupied is trespassing?"

We often read of people getting arrested for trespassing. Maybe the neighbors told the police they didn't want to press charges?

Cassie

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2019, 10:03:43 AM »
Glad you didn’t get hurt. Probably a bad idea to interrupt a burglary yourself. To many people with guns.

Johnez

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2019, 10:56:11 AM »
Well, the outcome might not be satisfying in terms of "justice," but man Sol you have stopped a crime in progress. Counts for a lot. At least this knucklehead now knows this neighborhood is being watched by some big ass dude with a grin!

bestname

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2019, 11:04:03 AM »
Police might not do anything this time, but if this guy succeeds in breaking in somewhere else, they have his prints and his license plate in their records.

Well done crime stopping!! 

Can I add, that I am terrified of sliding glass doors - to me they are basically a hand delivered invitation to burglars, rapists, and serial killers.

ketchup

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2019, 11:12:07 AM »
Can I add, that I am terrified of sliding glass doors - to me they are basically a hand delivered invitation to burglars, rapists, and serial killers.
Man, I'm just afraid of shattering the damn thing.

charis

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2019, 11:13:09 AM »
I think the homeowners greatly appreciate that the guy didn't actually enter their house, even though you feel that you handled it poorly.  There is no use second guessing it at this point - even if you had called the police immediately, there is still a chance that he could have gotten away. 

Homes are commonly burglarized in "broad daylight" because there is greater chance that the owners are away during the day.  Neighborhoods where people appear to be home/around during the day are a deterrent to burglars, so you did well to that end.  But yes, it is safer to call the police immediately and not necessarily confront the potential burglar.

MNBen

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2019, 11:46:04 AM »
Well, by posting it here we all know what to do better if it happens in our neighbourhoods.

Adding to this thought, I attended my first National Night Out recently and the police come around to visit.  I learned a lot about what to do vs. what not to do.

I do live in a suburb with lower crime so they aren't as busy, but they did insist that if you see ANYTHING suspicious, call 911 right away.  In fact, even the non-emergency lines now go to the same people.  So basically call 911, tell them it's not an emergency (so they can put you on hold if there are calls waiting) and then describe what you saw.

My first reaction was the last thing they'd want is people calling about every little thing they see.  But no, the police said they can't tell you how many times a crime is committed and neighbors say, "I saw something that looked suspicious at that time!"  So they said call WHEN you see it!   They'd rather investigate it and have it be nothing, then come after the crime was already committed.

So since then I've called when I saw an abandoned backpack sitting by a stop sign for over an hour and another time when I was out walking dog in the morning and saw a kitchen knife sitting atop a snowbank that was not there the night before.  Probably neither I would have called about before that lesson.  Again, they were probably nothing, but in both cases they thanked me for calling.

Since then, the new issue I see is neighbors posting stuff on NextDoor for other neighbors.   I've seen people post about their car having been broken into and wanting to tell the neighbors.  Or about seeing something suspicious.  I'm often the first one to say, "if you didn't call the police yet, please do" and often they hadn't even thought to do that!   It shocked me that people would be victims of a crime and not call police.

So yes, as sol learned...  if you see anything suspicious, just call.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2019, 11:48:07 AM by MNBen »

dougules

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2019, 11:51:23 AM »
I think it was better that he got stopped before the neighbors had to replace glass and clean up their house.  I don't think I would have confronted a likely criminal, though.  You don't know how he's going to react. 

Chris22

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2019, 11:55:06 AM »
Well, by posting it here we all know what to do better if it happens in our neighbourhoods.

I live in the country, my joke with the next door neighbors was - if either of us sees a moving van next door, call the cops.

I have replayed my options since then.  One possibility would have been to call the cops first, then go out and disable his vehicle real quick.  Just pop the hood and yank the battery cable or distributor cap, for example.  Or pull all the lug nuts off one wheel.

It sounds like confronting him in person was the wrong choice, for a variety of reasons.

I suspect (har!) that the police didn't feel like it was worth their time. I've seen this a few times for minor property crimes, like a bike getting stolen. They didn't even want to file a report, much less show up and look at the camera pics.

I've certainly seen that in bigger cities, where police are busy chasing down murderers, but where I live an attempted burglary still rates two patrol vehicles within five minutes of the call, and then a forensics team.  I used to have family in east Oakland, and the police there would take a burglary statement over the phone and that was about it.  If you wanted cops at your house down there, you had to tell them you had someone at gunpoint and were about to pull the trigger.

That's a terrible idea.  He may get further than you think on that wheel, and you can cause a potentially fatal accident in traffic when he loses it.  Imagine how you'd feel, and what your liability would be, if you caused an accident where his out of control car hit a bus full of orphan kids or whatever. 

driftwood

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2019, 12:06:12 PM »
We can Monday-morning quarterback this all day long and come  up with a bunch of reasons why what you did was correct or not. Except for people who deal with a certain type of situation all the time, the rest of us would all do different variations of an imperfect response.

Thanks for what you did. No one got robbed, and no one got hurt. As mentioned above, that one thief knows there's someone in the neighborhood with nothing better to do than watch strangers out of his windows :-)

It could have gone differently, but that's in the realm of alternate dimensions and 'what-ifs'.

bluebelle

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2019, 12:09:31 PM »
we had something similar happen to us.....but it was teenages.....kid rings the door-bell, gets no answer.....4 kids in the backyard....they break a window - that got napping DH's attention.   He pulls back the blinds, not sure who was more surprised....not experienced thieves....they wouldn't have fit through the small casement the broke.....its replacement was less than our insurance deductable.

Sol - maybe not the 'right' or safest thing, but letting the thief know someone is around during the day is a good thing.

I don't answer my door when I'm home alone, or if I'm not expecting someone.....but the insurance company said "make sure they see you at the window"

sol

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2019, 12:10:52 PM »
He may get further than you think on that wheel, and you can cause a potentially fatal accident in traffic when he loses it.  Imagine how you'd feel, and what your liability would be, if you caused an accident where his out of control car hit a bus full of orphan kids or whatever.

I've thought about that.  I wouldn't be able to let him drive off on a detached wheel.  I'd have to stand there and tell him it's detached so that he can't leave and then be prepared for the confrontation.  The alternative is to just slash the tires, but that's not quite so reversible if it turns out he's not a burglar.  I'm sure the cops would prefer I discretely take a picture of his face and then let him go.

It did not even occur to me that I could be walking into a potentially violent confrontation.  I assumed he was going to run off, and he did.  I was not attempting to physically detain him, though I suspect my neighbor wishes that I had. 

I've interrupted a few other criminal acts in my life, and usually they break up just because they know they've been seen.  A few years back I was passing through a bus depot at 1am and found a group of kids beating the shit out of another kid, and just by shouting at them they ran off.  I once stared at a shoplifter until he took a hair dye box out of his pocket and put it back on the shelf.  I've seen at least four or five drug deals go down.  I think most criminals are hoping to get away with something quietly, not cause a scene.  They generally don't want to escalate their charges from B&E to assault or attempted murder, and I'm large enough that most people aren't willing to risk trying.  They want to be invisible.

On the other hand, I don't exactly move in the criminal underworld either.  I suspect that me stumbling onto petty street crime is more of an effective deterrent than me stumbling into an organized criminal enterprise and expecting the same outcome.

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2019, 12:11:23 PM »
Well, by posting it here we all know what to do better if it happens in our neighbourhoods.

I live in the country, my joke with the next door neighbors was - if either of us sees a moving van next door, call the cops.

Not a joke around here.  We live in an area much like Sol's, and the moving van thing actually happened to people just down the street.  They had a kid getting ready to move for university, so no one thought anything of it when a moving van pulled up and started loading.  Homeowners were on vacation (none of the close neighbours knew that), and came home to an empty house.  No, kid was not taking the furniture.   So now when we go away, we all say what you say, but seriously, not joking.   : )

DenverDad

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2019, 12:35:04 PM »
It's important to understand life priorities in a situation like this. For cops, from least to highest it is: suspect > property > SWAT > police > civilians > hostages. A property crime should never be a reason to intervene. This could just have easily been a story where you had gotten stabbed, shot, or worse. Glad nothing bad happened in the end.

BicycleB

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2019, 01:07:35 PM »
Well done, Sol. Man in the arena - in slippers!


RetiredAt63

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #21 on: February 01, 2019, 04:05:18 PM »
Well, by posting it here we all know what to do better if it happens in our neighbourhoods.

I live in the country, my joke with the next door neighbors was - if either of us sees a moving van next door, call the cops.

Not a joke around here.  We live in an area much like Sol's, and the moving van thing actually happened to people just down the street.  They had a kid getting ready to move for university, so no one thought anything of it when a moving van pulled up and started loading.  Homeowners were on vacation (none of the close neighbours knew that), and came home to an empty house.  No, kid was not taking the furniture.   So now when we go away, we all say what you say, but seriously, not joking.   : )

Stories like that are why we had the joke - we would tell each other if we were going away, and the moving van part was just the fun way of saying the house needs watching.

In a former neighbourhood I was part of Neighbourhood Watch.  We lived on a dead end street.  I was coming out of my driveway one day, a car was coming towards me slowly, and when the driver saw my car just sitting there waiting to see what he would do, he turned around in the next driveway and went away super fast.   I figure that was one burglary not done.

partgypsy

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #22 on: February 01, 2019, 04:15:19 PM »
I'm glad you're ok. When I read the title I was worried. You were very successful at interrupting a burglary. Just not at having the suspect apprehended  (through no fault of your own).

lhamo

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2019, 08:12:07 PM »
Well done, sol -- but I do think you should be careful about direct confrontations in the future.  One issue with property theft in our region these days is that many of the people engaging in it are doing it to get items they can sell to support a drug habit.  And may be high or coming down from a high or desperate to get high again while in the middle of their activities. Not exactly the most rational actors.

katsiki

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #24 on: February 01, 2019, 08:36:30 PM »
I've interrupted a few other criminal acts in my life, and usually they break up just because they know they've been seen.

With all that crime-fighting, how did you find the time to work enough to FIRE?  :)

Seriously, good job and glad you were not harmed!

electriceagle

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #25 on: February 02, 2019, 12:45:51 AM »
In retrospect, what I was supposed to do was call 911 as soon as I saw him go into the back yard, and then let him actually break into the house while the cops show up.  I thought I was being a good neighbor by stopping a crime in progress, but from a legal standpoint it looks like I let him get away with it by interrupting him.  Peering into windows of empty houses isn't actually a crime.  Without photos of him literally trying to break into the house, which also clearly show his face, they can't prove it was him.  My photos of him hightailing it out of there aren't evidence of a crime. 

So on the one hand, yay I stopped a crime because I'm retired and home during the day, and I kept my neighborhood safe.  On the other, I kind of did a shitty job of it and they weren't able to catch the guy.

In my mind, its better to avoid having the crime than to let it happen in order to punish the would-be thief. People who are burglarized feel that thier privacy has been invaded -- sometimes they even move because of it. Better to avoid that.

When something like this occurs -- the police have a good idea of who is committing crimes but can't prove it -- it should be policy to tell them that they have been caught and to cut it out. Follow up with persistent social services if they turn out to be substance addicted/extremely poor. I'd much rather have fewer crimes and fewer people in jail than let crimes happen in order to achieve a goal of more people in jail.

Some criminals might want to use the warning as an opportunity to hide better, but they don't have to be told how they've been caught -- just that the police know who they are and what they've been up to.

dragoncar

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #26 on: February 02, 2019, 01:17:50 AM »
Ah, so my fake alarm monitoring sign might really work!

ministashy

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #27 on: February 02, 2019, 02:56:38 AM »
Speaking as someone who has worked with law enforcement and as a condo association board member--I try to tell people that if they see something off or wrong, ALWAYS call the police.  They might not get there in time (especially if it's nuisance stuff, like kids partying), but those reports will still go into the law enforcement database for your area, and that data is what departments use to project needed manpower, where and when to prioritize patrol routes, and much more on.  So it's always important to report a crime, even if they never catch the guy.

spartana

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #28 on: February 02, 2019, 09:57:59 AM »
Well done, sol -- but I do think you should be careful about direct confrontations in the future.  One issue with property theft in our region these days is that many of the people engaging in it are doing it to get items they can sell to support a drug habit.  And may be high or coming down from a high or desperate to get high again while in the middle of their activities. Not exactly the most rational actors.
This! Lots of drug addled and desperate tweakers in my former hood looking for a quick (and often violent) way to get money for their next fix asap. The fact that many of them are armed means confronting them is very very dangerous. Most break in during the daytime when people are at work too.

iris lily

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #29 on: February 04, 2019, 03:01:00 PM »
Well, the outcome might not be satisfying in terms of "justice," but man Sol you have stopped a crime in progress. Counts for a lot. At least this knucklehead now knows this neighborhood is being watched by some big ass dude with a grin!

This.

This is why neighborhood watch efforts are good,, this is why you need to know who lives next door to you and across from you and  what they look like so that you can identify people who do not belong on your neighbor’s front step, around the side of their house, in their backyard.

If y’all wait for cops to come and fix stuff, well… You’ll be waiting a long time.Also, it is not at all realistic to expect the police to arrest someone for Trespassing when this is all they did. You cannot throw someone in jail for their intentions and the fact that this guy intended something nefarious doesn’t count with the law. Nor would I want it to. Trespassing is one of those crimes that is often thrown into a mix of charges to up the ante when a bad guy is caught.

Good job OP!
Iris, urban warrior

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #30 on: February 04, 2019, 11:43:08 PM »
I join the chorus of those saying, 'Well done Sol'.

TempusFugit

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #31 on: February 05, 2019, 07:45:00 AM »
A couple of years ago a homeowner about a mile from my neighborhood came home in mid-morning to find a strange car in his driveway.  He had a carry permit and was armed at the time, so he confronted the two men who were ransacking his house, only to find that they, too were armed.  A shootout of sorts ensued in the middle of a low-crime suburban neighborhood.  Luckily no one was hurt.

The man had blocked the burglars' car with his own, so they ran off on foot and ended up in my neighborhood.  The local police showed up in force, with dogs, assault rifles, and a helicopter and a went yard by yard through the entire neighborhood.  One was caught fairly quickly but the second had found a way into a vacant home and hid for almost two hours.  He finally made a dash and was caught.  I was a bit amused by the enthusiasm evident on the faces of the police as they got to break out all their toys.  It doesn't happen very often in my suburban town.

The trend over the past few years has definitely been mid-morning break-ins when people (who aren't FIRE!) are at work. 

One thing I like about my neighborhood is how many people are around during the day, running or walking with their kids or dogs.  More activity is good.   

GuitarStv

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #32 on: February 05, 2019, 07:59:27 AM »
I get why you did what you did, but that seems overly risky to me.  Personally, I would have called the police immediately and not attempted a confrontation.

There is a schizophrenic guy several houses down from me on our street.  He's generally nice and OK, and I often talk with him . . . but every couple years he goes off his meds.  He is extremely violent when this happens.  He threw a cinder block through our neighbour's rear car window one night.  Another night he went around smashing people's porch lights with a hammer (he was dressed only in a long skirt at the time).  I've also seen him attack moving vehicles in the street with a broom handle.  Because of him I keep a heft crowbar in our house in an easily accessible spot in case we ever need it.  I'm not a small guy either, have a lot of experience boxing and wrestling and am reasonably confident that I could defend myself against him if needed to . . . but have always called the police first when a situation arises.

My point being . . . I know about this crazy guy.  You have no idea what the shady dude in your neighbourhood is thinking, armed with, or capable of.  Discretion is the better part of valor.

sol

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #33 on: February 05, 2019, 08:32:53 AM »
I get why you did what you did, but that seems overly risky to me.

I understand the wisdom in this advice, coming from so many of you.

This particular instance just didn't feel threatening to me, though.  I mean he literally shook my hand!  I approached him with a big smile and an offer to help, after watching him for several minutes.  He didn't appear to be high and he wasn't behaving erratically like someone off their meds might.  He was behaving like a low level neighborhood criminal looking for cash or electronics, who was hoping to get in and out unnoticed before having his plans interrupted.

Still, I'll call the cops first next time.

PoutineLover

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #34 on: February 05, 2019, 08:46:37 AM »
I think you did good. My neighbor did something similar for me once, he saw a guy trying to get into my back door so he asked him what he was doing and the guy made up some bullshit story about how I owed him money but then he left. When I got home I realized my back door lock was damaged and the window was broken, but luckily he hadn't got inside. I called the cops and they got a description from the neighbor. In the end nothing came of it but I'm very glad he didn't get in, it was violating enough knowing that he was that close. Thanks to people like you and my neighbor who pay attention to odd goings-on.

FrugalToque

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #35 on: February 05, 2019, 08:52:52 AM »
I was kind of cringing, expecting something about broken teeth and concussions, so it didn't go as "poorly" as it could have.

I suppose, if I felt the criminal in question was harmlessly small enough, I might have done something similar, but I'm much more likely to have called the cops first, then gone over to talk to him.  I did something similar when some dude drove his pickup truck into our driveway in the middle of winter and then went running around the back of our house.  (It turned out he was chasing an escaped horse we couldn't see in the dark.)

Also, you missed a really good chance to talk to him about career choices and how he needs to [Jedi hand-wave] make a new one.

Cheers,
Toque.

sol

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #36 on: February 05, 2019, 09:12:15 AM »
As an update on this incident, the responding officer says that with the evidence they have right now they could definitely make an arrest if they could find the guy, but the prosecutor is virtually certain not to charge him.

In this case, it looks like the arrest would just be for the purposes of getting an updated mugshot and adding it to his record.  Right now, if he's ever picked up for some other crime in the future this incident would be invisible because there's no arrest for it.

He also reiterated what all of you have said, which is that the best course of action is to call the cops right away and then not confront him, but that in this case doing so probably saved my neighbor from a broken window.

dougules

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #37 on: February 05, 2019, 10:21:23 AM »
I get why you did what you did, but that seems overly risky to me.

I understand the wisdom in this advice, coming from so many of you.

This particular instance just didn't feel threatening to me, though.  I mean he literally shook my hand!  I approached him with a big smile and an offer to help, after watching him for several minutes.  He didn't appear to be high and he wasn't behaving erratically like someone off their meds might.  He was behaving like a low level neighborhood criminal looking for cash or electronics, who was hoping to get in and out unnoticed before having his plans interrupted.

Still, I'll call the cops first next time.

You should have used the strategy of my old neighbor.  Once you latch on just wear him down with endless amounts of small talk, and don't let him get a word in edgewise to say that he needs to go or whatever. 

Psychstache

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #38 on: February 05, 2019, 03:13:06 PM »
I did something similar when some dude drove his pickup truck into our driveway in the middle of winter and then went running around the back of our house.  (It turned out he was chasing an escaped horse we couldn't see in the dark.)

This feels like the most Canadian post of the day.

rocketpj

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #39 on: February 05, 2019, 06:36:08 PM »
I came home from a weekend of winter camping when I was about 16, and looked pretty scruffy.  When I arrived home I realized I had lost my key to the house. 

The rest of the story tells itself.  I knew I could get into the house through my parents bedroom window by standing on the gas meter, sliding the window open and dropping onto the bed.  I didn't know that our neighbour across the alley saw me going in and freaked out.

So I get out of the shower 15 minutes later to see police cars front and back and a pair of very intense cops banging on the front door.  I got dressed before answering, and then spent a fair chunk of time proving that I actually lived in the house.  Eventually the address on my drivers license sealed the deal - of course they had to go down into my room with me so I could get the thing.

It was Canada in 1988, and I am pasty skinned, so thankfully I didn't get shot.

BookLoverL

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #40 on: February 07, 2019, 12:54:36 AM »
Super Sol, Defender of the Neighbourhood!

I guess it's probably true that it was pretty risky to interrupt a crime in progress - I wouldn't have had the courage to do it myself. But that's why there's a fine line between courage and recklessness.

I'm definitely with those who think that with crime, prevention is better than cure. Well done, and glad you're ok.

LennStar

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Re: I interrupted a burglary. Poorly.
« Reply #41 on: February 07, 2019, 06:03:54 AM »
Quote
It is not the sort of place you expect to find property crime
Really? For me sounds the perfect place for property crimes. Wealthy people, but no so rich as to having fancy alarm systems or extra cop patrols.
An area with (relativly) few eyes, especioally at day time when they are all working.
etc.

And yes, the moment he walked to the backside after ringing the bell you should have called the cops and not show yourself (and make photos hidden).

Especially in the US, where the stupid gun laws mean that burglars often carry weapons, because they have to expect getting shot the moment they try to climb through the window (in other countries at least "professional" burglars make sure to NOT carry weapons, because if they get cought, that first makes them more suspicious, and second makes their sentence worse, and since they don't need to expect being shot and defend themselves...)