This is presented as a ‘hypothetical’, for your consideration, but is a true story.
A home owner, on his day off from working continual 12 hour shifts, in order to provide for his family, is home one day minding his own business when he decides to run a quick errand. He is only gone for about 35 minutes before he returns home. He puts up his garage door by remote control and enters the garage. Suddenly from the floor above his head he hears someone running through his home, he knows his wife and live-in elderly mother in- law are not home, they are out running errands today.
The home owner goes around to the back of his house and discovers a window has been broken open! He quickly returns to his truck where he calls 911 then retrieves a pump shotgun from his truck. The shotgun is unloaded with a trigger lock on it, he was preparing to give a firearm safety course within the next hour, (he is a state firearm instructor) and had put the shotgun in the truck already for the class. He decides that even though the gun is unloaded and locked, the criminal will not know this and decides to use it hopefully to bluff the criminal.
The home owner goes around to the back of his home and looks up at the sliding glass doors, inside the house the criminal is looking out at him. The home owner holds the shotgun up for the criminal to see and says to come out of the house, instead the criminal retreats out of view into the interior. At this the owner runs around to the front of his home thinking the criminal is going to try to escape that way. When the criminal does not leave by the front, the owner positions himself on the side of the house to watch both the front and back doors at an angle.
Within about 30 seconds the criminal comes out the back door of the house, the owner see’s him and tells him that he has a shotgun, points it, and yells not to move! The burglar takes one look over his shoulder and bolts for the porch stairs! He drops a bag of stolen items on the porch as he runs. The home owner gives chase with the useless unloaded shotgun and is only about four feet behind the criminal but cannot gain ground on him. So he decides to use the shotgun to reach out and ‘touch’ the criminal. He swings it once, glancing the barrel off the burglars head, The criminal starts screaming and running faster. (In the movies he would have fallen down.) The home owner swings a second time glancing it off the criminals head again, this time the shotgun’s barrel breaks off! The home owner is in utter disbelief about the barrel so he drops the useless gunstock and continues chasing the criminal.
Now,while all this chase is taking place, the cell phone is still connected to 911, it is in the home owners left hand as he runs. The criminal is running next to a six foot high stockade fence behind two of the neighbors homes, with the home owner about ten feet behind, the crook turns a corner that will lead back to the street, then he stops and turns, the homeowner takes the corner and is confronted with the criminal about eight feet away facing him. The cell phone, 911 operator is still ‘listening’ when the criminal says to the home owner ” I have a gun, if you keep chasing me I will shoot you”, at this the home owner replies, “then you had better f****** use it!” and rushes the criminal, who turns screaming “I don’t have a gun!” “I don’t have a gun!” This exchange was all caught on the 911 recording.
The chase lasts about another fifty yards before the home owner catches the criminal with an upper body tackle from behind driving him down into the pavement on the driveway of a former assistant district attorney of the town. At this point the criminal is trying to wrestle free so the home owner knocks the steam out of him with some well placed ‘incentives’, (punches) convincing him to stop moving. He pins him to the ground for about five more minutes before the police arrive and take over custody of this guy who turns out to be a very well known 38 year old serial burglar who has been in and out of jail since his early teens. Anyone who has lived in the neighborhood for ten years or more know of his extensive criminal history, as the home owner discovers later.
Back at work, the home owner discovers that many people where he works have been burglarized within the last three weeks in the same general vicinity, one on the same day just a few hours prior. At least three people know the criminal by name, (R. E. Thomas Jr.) for thefts he has committed against them over the years. He had some stolen jewelry the day of his arrest that belonged to a house only a few hundred yards away from where he was caught, he admitted guilt to that break in. At the time he was caught by the home owner he was high on heroin and also on probation,(again)! He does not merely have a ‘rap’ sheet, he has his own volume!
During his forcible break-in and unforseen felony trespass of the locked home of where he was caught, while engaged in ransacking the home, he came upon an unloaded handgun along with an unloaded magazine the firearm instructor was preparing to bring to a safety class within the hour. He went through all the drawers and also found jewelry and a partially loaded magazine in another room which he evidently inserted into the handgun but had not chambered a round, as this was how it was discovered by police inside the bag of loot. Later a police officer says the home owner may be “cited” for the hand gun being ‘unsecure’!
The home was locked and as secure as any house can reasonably be when the home owner had briefly run his errand! ‘Container’ is not defined in MGL chapter 140 firearm law statutes, the gun was ‘contained within the locked home therefore it was secure. Unless the law is rewritten and specifies a size range for the word ‘container’ the home owner should be OK. A judge can not legally ‘legislate’, (rewrite laws) from the bench, that’s not his job. One has to wonder, at what point will a criminal be held responsible for his willfully unlawful intentions and determined actions that are beyond the control of any home owner? Is anything really ever ‘secure’, only reasonable attempts can be made to secure anything.
The home owner was under a dark cloud of apprehension/anxiety with this police threat of being ‘cited’ hanging over him. On the 21st of Nov. he received notice of his ‘hearing’ set for Dec. 23rd in the District Court of Plymouth, two days before Christmas, (Merry Christmas!). He wonders if his effort to catch the crook was such a good thing after all? No good deed goes unpunished? NOTE: Dec. 23rd, The charge against the homeowner was dismissed by the police, not bad for Ma..
His wife was afraid to leave the house for fear another criminal the courts have allowed to roam free may break in, at least until the alarm system is installed. (It has now been installed).
Should the home owner have been put through that stress for catching a known criminal? The gun within the house was secure, the doors were locked, the gun was initially unloaded, no children live there, trigger locks are only tamper resistant devices meant for children.
The home owner should never have met this serial burglar in the first place! Because, had the so-called justice system done its job effectively this criminal would have stayed in jail much longer instead of simply being ‘unleashed’ onto the unsuspecting public on probation, for ‘good behaviour’, over and over and over again. This ‘revolving door’ legal system seems deliberately designed to generate repeat business at the tax payers expense and more victims misery. The courts know he will be back, and that court appointed lawyers will continue to rake in our tax money because of him. Every successful industry relies upon repeat customers……..in that light, the courts are very successful indeed.
Tax payers as a whole are the real victims due to the sins of the court, sins of which the victims of repeat offenders should refuse to be made the scapegoat!
UPDATE: The criminal, Robert E.Thomas Jr. received 5 years at Concord in February 2011 to be followed by 3 years probation. Of course 5 years in Ma. probably means 18 months…………… what an ‘industry’.