Monday, March 05, 2012

Death by home invasion

Armando Rodriguez has a long criminal history. Springville, Utah, police believe he broke into a home a couple of weeks ago and stole a gun and a cellphone. He was at it again this past week. Early Thursday morning he broke into a duplex, where he woke a sleeping couple and told them he had a gun. He also told them to get their wallets and ATM cards, and to drive him to an ATM. While supposedly reaching for his card, the homeowner instead got his gun and shot Rodriguez in the chest, killing him.

Home invasions were once rare, now common. It worries me. Every night I make the rounds of my house, checking that all my doors are locked. I know no locks would keep out a determined individual. He could kick in a window, or even the door. But hearing such a ruckus I would have time to defend myself. On rare occasions I wake in the morning and realize my doors were unlocked all night. It upsets me to think of the what-ifs. Without diligence on my part, a thief could just walk in and take me by surprise.

Most home invasions are done because of, you guessed it, drugs. I never thought about it until my neighbor’s son got to be in his twenties, and now sits in his father’s garage all night across the street from me, drinking beer, smoking cigarettes and weed with his fellow bum-buddies. They have spent the last couple of years at just such an activity. The neighbor is a lanky, muscular kid who does construction when he's working. Apparently the bad economy is affecting him, and he has become a bum. Another neighbor says the kid's dad, who owns the house, gives him money for cigarettes and beer, and the kid drinks up to a case of beer a night. That removes the urgency for him to find work. Sometimes I worry about him and his bum friends, after a night of getting stoned, getting the notion to bust into my I keep an eye out.

I know that sounds paranoid. Okay. So I'm paranoid.

Because of these home invasions, and because of the most recent incident of the homeowner shooting and killing the invader, our legislature has introduced a bill which would take away any liability from someone shooting an intruder. In other words, in Utah if you shoot a burglar in your house and don't kill him, he can't sue you for pain and suffering. If you kill him, well then, according to the new law, that’s even better.

The new law has given me a devilish idea. This is all hypothetical, of course. It’s no admission of a plan or conspiracy. Say a homeowner was to lure someone he was worried about—like a neighborhood lout—from across the street by telling him he’d pay him to help with a small job moving some furniture in the basement. After working for a while the guy would offer the young man some beer. He’d drink a few beers, and when he was sufficiently mellow and off guard the homeowner would shoot him! He could then put a weapon, a big knife, perhaps, in the bum’s hand. The guy would then have committed the perfect murder, and removed the object of his paranoia, all with the law's blessing. Surely the cops would believe the homeowner when they saw a young guy with a knife in his hand, his still-warm body smelling of alcohol.

Of course that's just an idea. I mean, no one would do that, would they? I wouldn’t commit such an act, would I? I admit, though, looking out the window at the neighbor kid stirring in his garage, getting ready for a night of drinking with his friends, it's tempting.


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