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Column: Fair warning: Don’t attempt this at home


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Don’t try this at home” has become one of those household advisories familiar to people who watch television. It is frequently appended to filmed segments in which people of varying degrees of professionalism attempt or execute activities that could potentially cause serious harm to themselves or others.

More often than not, the activities involve stunts that are better left to trained professionals or not even attempted in the first place.

“Sometimes, there are occasions when these activities stem from real-life scenarios. One such situation came about last month when a Bartholomew County property owner confronted two men who were in the process of burglarizing his home.

The homeowner confronted one of the men and told him to get on the ground. The man complied. He later confronted — this time accompanied by a relative and a neighbor — a second intruder who was instructed to get back into his car. That man also complied. Moments later, Bartholomew County deputies arrived on the scene and arrested the two intruders.

The property owner likely lived out a dream envisioned by other crime victims in that he was able to exert control over the intruders simply by telling them what to do. While that might represent some sort of daydream for victims, it is an approach best left to properly equipped law enforcement professionals.

It is easy to see the homeowner’s frustrations in this instance because this was the fourth time in recent months that his property had been invaded.

However, in this case the property owner was armed only with the authority of his own voice. He benefited from the apparent reluctance of the intruders to question his ability to control the situation. Had they been otherwise inclined and in possession of weapons, the situation could have taken a grim turn.

Protecting one’s property, not to mention life, is an understandable quality. However, it can’t be stressed strongly enough that such a course of action can be extremely dangerous.

The homeowner’s action in this instance can be understood when considering that his property had been invaded on three earlier occasions

Police made that point in noting that homeowners are discouraged from taking the law into their own hands. The loss of one’s property pales in importance when compared to potential injuries or even the loss of life that can result from an unwise confrontation.

At the same time, citizen involvement is vital to law enforcement. For instance, in the incident above a neighbor near the crime scene had earlier contacted police to report a suspicious vehicle in the area. Police arrived on the scene moments after the second intruder was confronted.

Obviously the homeowner’s actions and the willingness of the suspects to obey his instructions made the police work easier. On the other hand, the situation could easily have become far more difficult for all concerned had they resisted.

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