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IL--Don't Prosecute Bob Buttrum for Catching a Thief!

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Don Gwinn, Jul 16, 2004.

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  1. Don Gwinn

    Don Gwinn Moderator Emeritus

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    I received this from John's mailing list at www.concealcarry.org yesterday. The State's Attorney's office number again is 1-618-244-8025. From the reaction when I called, I'm certain they're getting calls from people asking them to prosecute Buttrum. There's some speculation in the email that the local NAACP chapter is leaning on the SA office because Buttrum is white and the "victim" who stole the gas is black. I don't see how that could possibly be a racial issue unless Buttrum allows white people to steal from him.

    Before anyone starts, yes, what he did was tactically ill-advised and technically violates Illinois law. But if you don't want to see the man go to jail for it, please make a call.



    I believe this would be felony UUW. Jeff can probably tell us more about that, but I don't know how involved he will want to be. This is not very far from his jurisdiction.
     
  2. Preacherman

    Preacherman Member

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    This is worth a bump. I'm not in Illinois, but for those of us who are, this deserves your time and attention, IMHO...
     
  3. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    We should read about that a lot more often.
     
  4. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Member

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    Maybe twenty or twenty five years ago a gas station owner and tow truck operator in Kettleman City, CA, gave chase to a gasoline thief. His body was found later in the cab of his pickup truck. To the best of my knowledge the murderer has never been identified.

    Pilgrim
     
  5. Josey

    Josey member

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    Have I got this right? A guy steals some gas. NO weapon, no endangerment of life and of little monetary loss. TWO people jump in TWO vehicles an initiate a 90 MPH THREE vehicle chase on a interstate? The drivers, passengers and the general public were endangered, there was a vehicle (suspects) boxed in and a firearm brought into play as a threat. Do I have this right? I feel that ALL involved should be sitting in jail. Three drivers should lose their licenses. Mr. Buttram (you cannot MAKE this stuff up) should spend a few years in the state pen. I have no sympathy for any of those IDIOTS.
     
  6. mrapathy2000

    mrapathy2000 member

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    not much of a life without a job or business. not much of a small business if you keep losing "little monetary losses"

    those losses add up for rural small businesses.

    no cops,sherrifs and highway patroll half hour or hour away providing they are not busy.

    one way I see it as vigilantism. the other I think they are justified. no one upholds the law or looks out for your interest maybe you should take a stand.

    small business owner pays for gas. gas goes into large tank. non paying customer comes pulls gas n go. small business owners property is in that car I think he has every right to chase them down get what is his specially in public. maybe even go into private property. especially when no Law enforcemant is around to enforce the law.

    similar to Bail Bonds. guy in jail calls bail bondsman gets bail paid released to custody of bail bondsman. you run bondsman sends his bail enforcers after you. they can go anywhere the man released on bail is why. cause he is in theyre custody. conditions of release.

    why shouldnt the gas station owner/worker be able to go where his stolen merchandise is ?
     
  7. mussi

    mussi Member

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    I've once seen an interesting solution to that problem in the Ukraine.

    You drove into the gas station, and when you were pumping, a row of spikes in front and behind the vehile would rise so that trying to flee would result in deflated tires. Seems to have solved the problem quite well
     
  8. CEShooter

    CEShooter Member

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    Good for this guy. If the cops won't or more than likely are unable to act in such a situation then good for the average Joe standing up to these waste's of space. Is someone had been hurt in this chase then yep, nail the store owner's arse to the wall. It's the same responsibility we take as gun owners when we choose to fire upon someone threating our lives. But no one was hurt so he successfully made sure a criminal will get what's coming to him so he's a hero. Often the line between hero and idiot is the width of a hair and dose of good luck. Crime will never decrease until the average Joe starts to fight back and have a zero-tolerance policy on crimes against a person.
     
  9. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

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    Let's not panic just yet.....

    This happened one county South of me. Funny but this is the first I've heard about it, but then I've been on a cycle where I'm either working or sleeping for the past couple weeks.

    First off, taking the case to the Grand Jury may provide the states attorney political cover from the NAACP. He could easily file the charges himself. In fact I would almost bet that this is what's going on.

    I'm not so sure that this would be felony UUW. If you look in the Illinois Compiled Statutes, a private citizen can use the same force a peace officer can to effect an arrest:

    (720 ILCS 5/7‑6) (from Ch. 38, par. 7‑6)
    Sec. 7‑6. Private person's use of force in making arrest.
    (a) A private person who makes, or assists another private person in making a lawful arrest is justified in the use of any force which he would be justified in using if he were summoned or directed by a peace officer to make such arrest, except that he is justified in the use of force likely to cause death or great bodily harm only when he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another.
    (b) A private person who is summoned or directed by a peace officer to assist in making an arrest which is unlawful, is justified in the use of any force which he would be justified in using if the arrest were lawful, unless he knows that the arrest is unlawful.
    (Source: Laws 1961, p. 1983.)


    The statute on Unlawful use of weapons says this:

    (720 ILCS 5/24‑1) (from Ch. 38, par. 24‑1)
    Sec. 24‑1. Unlawful Use of Weapons.
    (a) A person commits the offense of unlawful use of weapons when he knowingly:
    (1) Sells, manufactures, purchases, possesses or

    carries any bludgeon, black‑jack, slung‑shot, sand‑club, sand‑bag, metal knuckles, throwing star, or any knife, commonly referred to as a switchblade knife, which has a blade that opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in the handle of the knife, or a ballistic knife, which is a device that propels a knifelike blade as a projectile by means of a coil spring, elastic material or compressed gas; or
    (2) Carries or possesses with intent to use the same

    unlawfully against another, a dagger, dirk, billy, dangerous knife, razor, stiletto, broken bottle or other piece of glass, stun gun or taser or any other dangerous or deadly weapon or instrument of like character; or
    (3) Carries on or about his person or in any

    vehicle, a tear gas gun projector or bomb or any object containing noxious liquid gas or substance, other than an object containing a non‑lethal noxious liquid gas or substance designed solely for personal defense carried by a person 18 years of age or older; or
    (4) Carries or possesses in any vehicle or concealed

    on or about his person except when on his land or in his own abode or fixed place of business any pistol, revolver, stun gun or taser or other firearm, except that this subsection (a) (4) does not apply to or affect transportation of weapons that meet one of the following conditions:
    (i) are broken down in a non‑functioning state;

    or
    (ii) are not immediately accessible; or
    (iii) are unloaded and enclosed in a case,

    firearm carrying box, shipping box, or other container by a person who has been issued a currently valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card;


    And this section would certainly make it felony UUW:

    (720 ILCS 5/24‑1.6)
    Sec. 24‑1.6. Aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.
    (a) A person commits the offense of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon when he or she knowingly:
    (1) Carries on or about his or her person or in any

    vehicle or concealed on or about his or her person except when on his or her land or in his or her abode or fixed place of business any pistol, revolver, stun gun or taser or other firearm; or
    (2) Carries or possesses on or about his or her

    person, upon any public street, alley, or other public lands within the corporate limits of a city, village or incorporated town, except when an invitee thereon or therein, for the purpose of the display of such weapon or the lawful commerce in weapons, or except when on his or her own land or in his or her own abode or fixed place of business, any pistol, revolver, stun gun or taser or other firearm; and
    (3) One of the following factors is present:
    (A) the firearm possessed was uncased, loaded

    and immediately accessible at the time of the offense; or
    (B) the firearm possessed was uncased, unloaded

    and the ammunition for the weapon was immediately accessible at the time of the offense; or
    (C) the person possessing the firearm has not

    been issued a currently valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card; or
    (D) the person possessing the weapon was

    previously adjudicated a delinquent minor under the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 for an act that if committed by an adult would be a felony; or
    (E) the person possessing the weapon was engaged

    in a misdemeanor violation of the Cannabis Control Act or in a misdemeanor violation of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act; or
    (F) the person possessing the weapon is a member

    of a street gang or is engaged in street gang related activity, as defined in Section 10 of the Illinois Streetgang Terrorism Omnibus Prevention Act; or
    (G) the person possessing the weapon had a order

    of protection issued against him or her within the previous 2 years; or
    (H) the person possessing the weapon was engaged

    in the commission or attempted commission of a misdemeanor involving the use or threat of violence against the person or property of another; or
    (I) the person possessing the weapon was under

    21 years of age and in possession of a handgun as defined in Section 24‑3, unless the person under 21 is engaged in lawful activities under the Wildlife Code or described in subsection 24‑2(b)(1), (b)(3), or 24‑2(f).
    (b) "Stun gun or taser" as used in this Section has the same definition given to it in Section 24‑1 of this Code.
    (c) This Section does not apply to or affect the transportation or possession of weapons that:
    (i) are broken down in a non‑functioning state;

    or
    (ii) are not immediately accessible; or
    (iii) are unloaded and enclosed in a case,

    firearm carrying box, shipping box, or other container by a person who has been issued a currently valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card.
    (d) Sentence. Aggravated unlawful use of a weapon is a Class 4 felony; a second or subsequent offense is a Class 2 felony. Aggravated unlawful use of a weapon by a person who has been previously convicted of a felony in this State or another jurisdiction is a Class 2 felony.
    (Source: P.A. 91‑690, eff. 4‑13‑00.)


    However, the staute goes on to say this:

    (720 ILCS 5/24‑2) (from Ch. 38, par. 24‑2)
    (Text of Section from P.A. 93‑438)
    Sec. 24‑2. Exemptions.
    (a) Subsections 24‑1(a)(3), 24‑1(a)(4) and 24‑1(a)(10) and Section 24‑1.6 do not apply to or affect any of the following:
    (1) Peace officers, and any person summoned by a
    peace officer to assist in making arrests or preserving the peace, while actually engaged in assisting such officer.
    (2) Wardens, superintendents and keepers of prisons,

    penitentiaries, jails and other institutions for the detention of persons accused or convicted of an offense, while in the performance of their official duty, or while commuting between their homes and places of employment.
    (3) Members of the Armed Services or Reserve Forces

    of the United States or the Illinois National Guard or the Reserve Officers Training Corps, while in the performance of their official duty.
    (4) Special agents employed by a railroad or a

    public utility to perform police functions, and guards of armored car companies, while actually engaged in the performance of the duties of their employment or commuting between their homes and places of employment; and watchmen while actually engaged in the performance of the duties of their employment.
    (5) Persons licensed as private security

    contractors, private detectives, or private alarm contractors, or employed by an agency certified by the Department of Professional Regulation, if their duties include the carrying of a weapon under the provisions of the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, and Locksmith Act of 2004, while actually engaged in the performance of the duties of their employment or commuting between their homes and places of employment, provided that such commuting is accomplished within one hour from departure from home or place of employment, as the case may be. Persons exempted under this subdivision (a)(5) shall be required to have completed a course of study in firearms handling and training approved and supervised by the Department of Professional Regulation as prescribed by Section 28 of the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, and Locksmith Act of 2004, prior to becoming eligible for this exemption. The Department of Professional Regulation shall provide suitable documentation demonstrating the successful completion of the prescribed firearms training. Such documentation shall be carried at all times when such persons are in possession of a concealable weapon.
    (6) Any person regularly employed in a commercial or

    industrial operation as a security guard for the protection of persons employed and private property related to such commercial or industrial operation, while actually engaged in the performance of his or her duty or traveling between sites or properties belonging to the employer, and who, as a security guard, is a member of a security force of at least 5 persons registered with the Department of Professional Regulation; provided that such security guard has successfully completed a course of study, approved by and supervised by the Department of Professional Regulation, consisting of not less than 40 hours of training that includes the theory of law enforcement, liability for acts, and the handling of weapons. A person shall be considered eligible for this exemption if he or she has completed the required 20 hours of training for a security officer and 20 hours of required firearm training, and has been issued a firearm authorization card by the Department of Professional Regulation. Conditions for the renewal of firearm authorization cards issued under the provisions of this Section shall be the same as for those cards issued under the provisions of the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, and Locksmith Act of 2004. Such firearm authorization card shall be carried by the security guard at all times when he or she is in possession of a concealable weapon.
    (7) Agents and investigators of the Illinois

    Legislative Investigating Commission authorized by the Commission to carry the weapons specified in subsections 24‑1(a)(3) and 24‑1(a)(4), while on duty in the course of any investigation for the Commission.
    (8) Persons employed by a financial institution for

    the protection of other employees and property related to such financial institution, while actually engaged in the performance of their duties, commuting between their homes and places of employment, or traveling between sites or properties owned or operated by such financial institution, provided that any person so employed has successfully completed a course of study, approved by and supervised by the Department of Professional Regulation, consisting of not less than 40 hours of training which includes theory of law enforcement, liability for acts, and the handling of weapons. A person shall be considered to be eligible for this exemption if he or she has completed the required 20 hours of training for a security officer and 20 hours of required firearm training, and has been issued a firearm authorization card by the Department of Professional Regulation. Conditions for renewal of firearm authorization cards issued under the provisions of this Section shall be the same as for those issued under the provisions of the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, and Locksmith Act of 2004. Such firearm authorization card shall be carried by the person so trained at all times when such person is in possession of a concealable weapon. For purposes of this subsection, "financial institution" means a bank, savings and loan association, credit union or company providing armored car services.
    (9) Any person employed by an armored car company to

    drive an armored car, while actually engaged in the performance of his duties.
    (10) Persons who have been classified as peace

    officers pursuant to the Peace Officer Fire Investigation Act.
    (11) Investigators of the Office of the State's

    Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor authorized by the board of governors of the Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor to carry weapons pursuant to Section 7.06 of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Act.
    (12) Special investigators appointed by a State's

    Attorney under Section 3‑9005 of the Counties Code.
    (13) Court Security Officers while in the

    performance of their official duties, or while commuting between their homes and places of employment, with the consent of the Sheriff.
    (13.5) A person employed as an armed security guard

    at a nuclear energy, storage, weapons or development site or facility regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission who has completed the background screening and training mandated by the rules and regulations of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
    (14) Manufacture, transportation, or sale of weapons

    to persons authorized under subdivisions (1) through (13.5) of this subsection to possess those weapons.
    (b) Subsections 24‑1(a)(4) and 24‑1(a)(10) and Section 24‑1.6 do not apply to or affect any of the following:
    (1) Members of any club or organization organized

    for the purpose of practicing shooting at targets upon established target ranges, whether public or private, and patrons of such ranges, while such members or patrons are using their firearms on those target ranges.
    (2) Duly authorized military or civil organizations

    while parading, with the special permission of the Governor.
    (3) Hunters, trappers or fishermen with a license or

    permit while engaged in hunting, trapping or fishing.
    (4) Transportation of weapons that are broken down

    in a non‑functioning state or are not immediately accessible.
    (c) Subsection 24‑1(a)(7) does not apply to or affect any of the following:
    (1) Peace officers while in performance of their

    official duties.
    (2) Wardens, superintendents and keepers of prisons,

    penitentiaries, jails and other institutions for the detention of persons accused or convicted of an offense.
    (3) Members of the Armed Services or Reserve Forces

    of the United States or the Illinois National Guard, while in the performance of their official duty.


    So if peace officers and any person summoned by a
    peace officer to assist in making arrests or preserving the peace, while actually engaged in assisting such officer
    are exempted from UUW and 720 ILCS (5/7-6) says that:A private person who makes, or assists another private person in making a lawful arrest is justified in the use of any force which he would be justified in using if he were summoned or directed by a peace officer to make such arrest, has he commmitted UUW? I don't think so. I bet States Attorney Gary Duncan doesn't think so either, which is why he's presenting the case to the Grand Jury instead of filing the charges himself. The Grand Jury issues no indictment and everyone is happy. Often use of force cases go through Grand Juries or Coroner's Juries so that there is no appearance of bias in the States Attorny's office.

    I'd recommend holding off on all the panic until we see what the Grand Jury does. Think about it, if Duncan had wanted to charge Buttram, he's had a couple months to do it. Buttrum wasn't arrested on the scene so the Jefferson County deputies obviously didn't think there was anything wrong with his use of the weapon. I do hate to think about the civil liability Buttram took on by engaging in a high speed chase and boxing the suspect in. I'm quite sure any judgements from a fatal traffic accident would have exceed the limits of liability on his insurance, if the circumstances didn't give his insurance company wiggle room to keep from paying at all.

    Jeff - who thinks the Grand Jury will probably do the right thing.
     
  10. liliysdad

    liliysdad member

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    Vigilantism...plain and simple. The owner posed a greater risk to the public with the chase and the brandishment than was necessary for a petty theft. While I dont think he ought to go to the pen, he definitely should see the inside of the county lockup for a while.

    If its that big of a problem, simply require customers to pre-pay for gasoline.
     
  11. flatrock

    flatrock Member

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    If they want to charge the guy with something it should be reckless driving for giving chase at high speeds and cutting the thief off to effect the stop.

    It doesn't seem like his use of the firearm was inappropriate.

    I don't think it's a good idea for private citizens to be giving chase in cars at high speed to capture a thief. If a jury feel that he wasn't justified in doing so, then he should pay the price for that act. However, that's not related his carrying of a firearm.
     
  12. HankB

    HankB Member

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    This sort of thing only happens when the authorities cannot or will not do their jobs. Note that the guy called the cops first, but was informed that they didn't have a car available.
     
  13. liliysdad

    liliysdad member

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    Then he should have filed a report.
     
  14. Ransom

    Ransom Member

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    Yeah, but here you have people who arent trained in high pursuit driving putting god knows how many people in danger as they speed down the street chasing someone all over 20 bucks as most in gas. Its just irresponsible. Far too many innocent people could have been hurt or killed all over a few dollars.
     
  15. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

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    No, this wasn't vigilantism. In Illinois a private citizen has almost the same powers of arrest as peace officer. Buttram witnessed the theft and he could make the arrest and use the same force a peace officer would be permitted to use under Illinois law. That said, I think that the entire episode was an exercise in poor judgement. The fact that an action is legal, doesn't necessarily make it the right choice at the time.

    The following observations are made from my reading of the news reports, which may or may not reflect what actually happened.

    Buttram observed a man acting very suspicious and nervous at his gas station. It was 11:30 am so visibility was most likely excellent. The man was out of his vehicle, pumping gas. A resonable man would assume that Buttram would have been able to get a good description of the suspect, ht/wt, hair, clothing. He also was in a position to get a good desription of the vehicle, to include it's license number.

    Granted the Jefferson County dispatcher told Buttram that no cars were immediately available. That's not surprising since there probably weren't more then two deputies on the road to cover the entire county. That's a fact of life in rural Southern Illinois. Police protection is expensive and county governments down here are pretty poor. However, the dispather would have put out an ISPERN (Illinois State Police Emergency Radio Network) message that would have been heard in every squad car (state, county and city) in state police district 13. Depending on where the license on the Blazer checked back to, and the direction of travel, they may have broadcast it in adjacent state police districts. If the vehicle was not located, either the Jefferson County Sheriffs Department or the Mt Vernon City Police would have went by the suspects residence and arrested him for theft of services. Buttram would have had to ID the suspect from from either a photo line up or an actual line up. The outcome would have been the same, and no one would have been endangered by a high speed chase.

    Were Buttram's actions legal? Probably....Were they prudent? I don't think so.

    Jeff
     
  16. MrPink

    MrPink Member

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    Seems like vigilantism to me also. Should have gotten the license plate number and called the cops. Chasing the thief down at 90mph and forcing him off the road does not sound safe to me. What if he or his buds caused an accident with a third party?

    Two wrongs do not make a right.

    This cloak of NAACP racism claim seems like a crock to me. Also if the store owner is prosecuted a slap on the wrist and an admonishment sound good enough to me. Remember the guy who stole the gas will probably get a light penalty..
     
  17. Ransom

    Ransom Member

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    Its legal for him to hold the man for arrest and possibly brandish his gun(I'm kind of on the fence on that one) but does it give him the right to speed and drive recklessly in the pursuit of this guy? I dont think the citizens arrest gives you the right to break the law.
     
  18. Don Gwinn

    Don Gwinn Moderator Emeritus

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    Bad judgment, yes. I agree with that. Again, I'm not saying I would have done the same in his place. But despite what a lot of politicians like to say, "bad judgment" and "crime" are not the same things. The guy shouldn't go to prison.

    As for reckless driving, I'm OK with that too, but he's apparently not being charged with it, is he? Maybe there's some requirement that an officer witness that. If they were going 60 to 70 mph on old country roads, that could range from the normal speed "everybody" drives on that road, to highly dangerous. Depends on the road surfaces. If a county deputy comes up behind you doing 55 on what is officially a 30mph road west of my small hometown, you will be passed. I know because they've passed me.

    Jeff, thank you for shedding some light on what might actually happen here.

    Honestly, if he has to get a scare put into him and sweat out a grand jury, that may not be entirely inappropriate. Again, what he did was a bad idea that could have gone much worse than it did.
     
  19. six 4 sure

    six 4 sure Member

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    I remember seeing this on the news awhile back. I thought then 'that might not have been the best way to handle it'.

    I work in Jefferson County (Mt. Vernon) very close to where this happened. I'll have to ask around at work and see if anyone know more.
     
  20. Bruce H

    Bruce H Member

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    Looks like three people here don't see anything wrong with stealing. Even stealing small amounts is still stealing. Let this go on and everybody will try it. If this guy stole a takn of gas every week in a year the amount would be quite high. This needs to be applied more often.
     
  21. g_gunter

    g_gunter Member

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    The Man was Justified in his actions!

    I guess I'm a dinosaur compared to some here? I have a simple outlook on such things. I have no problem with a thief of this sort getting his just desserts. No problem at all with a citizen (the meaning of citizen in its fullest sense) protecting his life, property, and means of providing for him and his family from those who would show such a blatant disregard of such. Those who would show such a disregard are violating more than this man but everyone in that community who seek to peacefully co-exist with one another. The law should serve the people and since there is no law that can cover every aspect of life common sense must prevail in some cases. The low-life who thought so little of this man's property and livelihood has no place in society among law-abiding citizens. The man who protected his own property and livelihood was justified in his actions. But that's just me. I'm a dinosaur. ;)

    Greg
     
  22. pinblaster

    pinblaster Member

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    g_gunter , you're not a dinosaur , you just haven't been "dumbed down" enoufgh yet . You need to be reeducated with some sensitivity training and maybe some anger management so you can feel empathy for the thief and understand that since the store owner let this poor thief put gas in his car before he paid for it , that it's the store owners fault that the guy stole the gas , and he should take the loss and not whine about it . :D
     
  23. Rebeldon

    Rebeldon Member

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    I'm sorry, but the poor feller should have taken the license tag number and called the police. There was no forcible felony committed by the guy who stole the gas. It's not like the guy kidnapped somebody--he stole gas. Chasing him down in his car and holding the guy a gunpoint for stealing gas is illegal in any state. It is unjustified.
     
  24. pinblaster

    pinblaster Member

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    Yes unfortuneatly in most parts of the USA (especially here in Baltimoronland) thieves can steal with impunity and God help the person they stole from if they take it upon themselves to do anything about it . I guess I'll be okay once I get my "mind right" .:barf:
     
  25. sevenpoint62mm

    sevenpoint62mm Member

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    Makes you wish for the ways of ancient times, when they just cut a theft's hands off for stealing. Kinda hard to pump gas (or drive off with it for that matter) without hands. :D
     
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