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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
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    13

    Default Rights to Protect Property

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: Washington

    I live in Seattle, where the police aren’t allowed to arrest people for property crimes/trespassing etc. Today I confronted someone about stealing a package from a neighbor and she asked me wha it was going to do about it (in a menacing way). I thought to myself: really, what IS it that I could possibly do? Say she were in my yard stealing, do I just have to watch her take it? It seems like attacking someone for that would be excessive, but with no police protection, what are the options? What if someone enters my home? Or if I catch them rummaging through my car? Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    19,047

    Default Re: Rights to Protect Property

    Your basic premise is wrong. The police are allowed to arrest such people. No, you have no vigilante rights to go shooting people who are committing crimes to others.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Rights to Protect Property

    So, to be clear...I’m not talking about shooting people. I want to know how forcibly I could remove them from my property if they refuse, and the police won’t come. I know it’s hard to believe, but the police won’t arrest people for a lot of these things because the prosecutors won’t pursue charges. The law means little here, when it comes to personal property.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    16,953

    Default Re: Rights to Protect Property

    Use a little common sense. You don't risk your life or your freedom for property. Property can be fixed or replaced. With that in mind I give you the following advice.

    If you see somebody stealing from your neighbor, call the police, take a picture with your phone. Don't interfere.

    If you see somebody beating up your neighbor, call the police, take a picture with your phone. Don't interfere. There's nothing you can do to stop it and you are likely to get yourself injured.

    Keep your car doors locked and don't leave valuables in your car. If somebody breaks into your car, call the police. Again, confronting a criminal could get you injured. Theoretically, you can use appropriate force to protect your property. In reality, it's likely to just get you injured. Sure, you can point a gun and yell stop. Then some neighbor reports a crazy person waving a gun, your thief runs away, it's not a good idea to shoot an unarmed thief who is running away.

    Inside your house is another story. But you still have to use common sense and just the amount of force that it takes to eliminate the threat, no more.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Rights to Protect Property

    What about the law, in the broader sense. That is, if laws aren’t enforced, what things, as citizens, can we do to affect the change? The current leadership of the city doesn’t want property laws enforced, and though we have elections coming up, few are running who want to change this. As a single citizen, do I have any rights “higher up the chain” than my local government, to which I can appeal for justice?

    I ask this, because what you are saying, Jack, makes total sense, and is pretty much how I feel about it. But the implication is that if I see someone stealing from me–and knowing full well the the police almost certainly won’t come if I call and if they do, won’t make an arrest–that I should just watch them do it and let it happen. This is really the conundrum I’m wrestling with here.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,646

    Default Re: Rights to Protect Property

    If you don’t feel the municipality is using their police force properly you attend the town hall or whatever meetings and express your concerns. When it comes time to vote, you vote to remove people that do not carrry on bussiness as you believe it should be.

    This is is an administrative issue so you deal with it through the administrative process.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    1,395

    Default Re: Rights to Protect Property

    Quote Quoting AMR1980
    View Post
    I live in Seattle, where the police aren’t allowed to arrest people for property crimes/trespassing etc.
    Where did you get the idea that the police in Seattle "aren’t allowed to arrest people for property crimes/trespassing etc."


    Quote Quoting AMR1980
    View Post
    Today I confronted someone about stealing a package from a neighbor and she asked me wha it was going to do about it (in a menacing way). I thought to myself: really, what IS it that I could possibly do?
    So...you believe Neighbor A stole a package from Neighbor B? The first and most obvious thing that you "could possibly do" is mind your business. Another rather obvious thing that you "could possibly do" is report the alleged crime to the police.


    Quote Quoting AMR1980
    View Post
    Say she were in my yard stealing, do I just have to watch her take it?
    Of course not.


    Quote Quoting AMR1980
    View Post
    It seems like attacking someone for that would be excessive
    That sort of depends on what sort of "attack" you mount. The law generally allows the use of reasonable, non-deadly force to prevent theft of property.


    Quote Quoting AMR1980
    View Post
    but with no police protection, what are the options?
    Sorry, but the notion that there is "no police protection" for this sort of thing is patently absurd.


    Quote Quoting AMR1980
    View Post
    What if someone enters my home? Or if I catch them rummaging through my car?
    Depends on all of the relevant facts and circumstances. Opining about incomplete hypotheticals is rarely productive.

    Quote Quoting AMR1980
    View Post
    The law means little here, when it comes to personal property.
    Ah yes...Seattle...well known refuge for the lawless.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Rights to Protect Property

    pg, you must live in a different neighborhood than I do. When we call the police they usually won’t come unless there’s a physical assault occurring. If they do come, they won’t make an arrest property crime. I caught someone the other day rummaging through my car. I called the police and and she broke into a neighboring house to hide. The neighbors said that she had broken into the home earlier that day and was getting high on their sofa. When the police came they told me there had been calls about her earlier in the day when she was throwing rocks at cars. They spoke with her for a bit and let her go. They told me that they can’t arrest her because the prosecutor won’t pursue cases like these. This is not the first police officer to tell me this...it is pretty well known in my neck of the woods.

    And I will not mind my business if I see people stealing from my neighbors. It was not “neighbor a” stealing, but a pair of people prowling the neighborhood, going through yards and looking for things to steal.

    Your condescending attitude betrays your naïveté on the matter. You clearly are not living in the same environment as I am so either try to be helpful or keep to yourself.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Posts
    3,038

    Default Re: Rights to Protect Property

    The police do not have to be honest with you. The things they told you about the person going through your car may or may not have been true.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Rights to Protect Property

    Could be, but I did see her going through my car and breaking into my neighbor’s house. There were multiple witnesses to confirmed it.

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