A very recent incident related to me by a friend.
- A man (and his live-in girlfriend) were given a handgun by his grandfather during the Beer Plague.
- They live in a small apartment on the second floor in a large city.
- He placed the gun on top of the bedroom dresser.
- This week, a thief used a ladder to get to the bedroom window and cut the screen to get in.
- The handgun was immediately apparent so it was the first thing the thief picked up.
- The man, who was alone at the time, was sleeping on the sofa in the other room when the thief made entry.
- The thief awakened him at gunpoint.
- The thief stole much of the couple’s possessions, including clothes, laptop, etc. in addition to the gun.
- The thief also demanded the keys and took them.
- After the thief departed, the man called the POlice.
- The POlice Department took the report about the home invasion over the phone.
- The man arranged to have the locks changed but that will take a while.
- The next day, the thief came back and tried to unlock the front door with the keys he had stolen. The door has a cross bar that was in place so the thief was unable to get in. The man yelled at him and he went away.
- Unsurprisingly, the man and his girlfriend are concerned and frightened.
- Fortunately, the thief did not injure the man.
Lessons from the incident
- This is a clear example of a Negative Outcome.
- The purpose of this type of incident report is not to denigrate the person it happened to. Rather, it is to provide important lessons to the rest of us, our family, and our friends.
- Leaving guns in open view is NEVER a good practice.
- Store guns where they are not accessible to unauthorized persons.
- Even a small lockbox or toolbox would have prevented the thief from immediately gaining access to the handgun. The man might have then awakened on his own and been able to achieve a more Positive Outcome.
- For the mechanically handy, most nightstands can be fitted with a drawer lock. While this will not deter a determined thief for long, it will not allow a thief to immediately gain access to your weapon. Such a lock will also prevent children from gaining access to a firearm.
- Guns that are on display as heirlooms or for other reasons should be disabled.
- Some burglars are also known as ‘Second Story Men’ https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/second-story%20man for a reason. Do not assume that living above the ground floor prevents unlawful entry. Even upper story windows should have devices that prevent them from being opened too far when ventilation is wanted.
- Criminals are opportunistic. This incident started out as burglary and then turned into a home invasion. If the man had struggled when he was awakened, it could easily have turned into a murder or homicide. Neither is desirable.
- Even if keys are not obviously taken, you should assume that a burglar has them. This means locks need to be changed and door locks supplemented until the change is made.
“There’s three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few that learn by observation. And the rest have to touch the electric fence.” –often incorrectly attributed to Will Rogers, American humorist
Tactical Professor books (all PDF)
- Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make http://seriousgunownermistakes.com
- Indoor Range Practice Sessions http://indoorrangepracticesessions.com
- Concealed Carry Skills and Drills http://concealedcarryskillsanddrills.com
- Advanced Pistol Practice http://bit.ly/advancedpistolpractice
- Shooting Your Black Rifle http://shootingyourblackrifle.com
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When an Albuquerque couple caught a man burglarizing their garage, they asked him to stop.
When that didn’t work, they pulled out a rifle and a handgun, and held him at gunpoint until police officers arrived.
The above story is referenced in this month’s issue of The Armed Citizen®, published as part of the Official Journals of the National Rifle Association. It is also available in the online version of The American Rifleman magazine. A similar story is published at least weekly and available online at the American Rifleman.
The Armed Citizen® is very worthwhile reading because it describes actual incidents that armed Americans face when dealing with criminal predation. Reading the columns shows the difference between real life and the ludicrous ‘ninjas coming from the ceiling’ figbars of their imaginations that people frequently cook up.
For space and copyright reasons, The Armed Citizen® only publishes a summary of each incident, which the NRA does not copyright. The NRA summary of the above incident goes as follows:
Two New Mexico burglary victims used a rifle and a handgun to keep a thief under wraps until the police arrived. One of the Albuquerque residents came home and noticed a stranger loading items—including a generator the homeowner recognized as his—into a vehicle. He approached the alleged thief and asked him to stop, but the bad guy scoffed at him. The man went into his house, armed himself and his wife, and the two confronted the suspect, holding him at gunpoint until the police arrived. (Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque, N.M., 11/21/15)
It’s useful to backtrack and find the original article. In many cases, there’s a lot more detail in the original story. Sometimes there is a wealth of information that we can learn from and think about our own situations ahead of time.
There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.
The Albuquerque Journal article even includes video from the bodycam worn by the arresting officer.
What can we learn from the article and bodycam footage in this case? What questions are worthwhile to ask ourselves while we have the opportunity of cool reflection? Are there decisions we can make ahead of time to keep us out of trouble? Here are a few points to consider. There are probably more.
The couple has the alleged burglar at gunpoint. So far, so good. Let’s consider, however, that they were no longer on their own property at that point. Depending on the state you may be in, once you leave your own property, even by a few steps, the rules (Know the Rules) can change quite a bit. Let’s pose the question “What if the perp takes off running when the officer arrives?” Shooting him in the back at that point probably wouldn’t be a good decision, even in Texas. Remember that YOU have a good idea who the good guys and bad guys are, but the Officer has to sort that out. Don’t assume the Officer has all the pertinent information (Understand the Situation) or that he or she even believes the information given so far. It’s not like a false report has never been phoned in.
It appears on the bodycam footage that the Officer goes between the perp and the couple to handcuff the dude. The woman lowers her pistol as the Officer moves in; good for her. Unless you’re familiar with Contact and Cover procedures, how you’re going to react when the PoPo arrives is best thought of ahead of time. Given that it’s a physical skill, (Have Adequate Skills) maybe even a little practice is in order. Given the circumstances, the woman probably didn’t even have a holster on. What are you going to do with your heater at that point?
The perp was released on his own recognizance the same day and then arrested again a few hours later for armed robbery. What if instead of going after someone else, he came back to the house he burglarized? It’s not hard to tell he’s a nitwit. Keep in mind that criminals don’t think the way we do. What state of alertness and readiness are you going to be in, post-event? If an entryway to your home has been damaged, are you going to stay there? What if your weapons have been taken into evidence? Do you have backups, not necessarily at your home?
Peeing on the fence isn’t much of a strategy. We have a lot of information available that we can use to put together at least a rough plan for circumstances that are foreseeable. And it’s not like we have to make it into a heavy duty wargaming exercise. There are typically five or six incidents referenced in The Armed Citizen® each month. There’s one or two a week listed online. Five minutes thought per incident still works out to less than an hour per month.
The Armed Citizen® database of all incidents ever reported is available on the NRA-ILA website.