Sunday, September 13, 2009

Stupidity or Complacency - Same Thing?

I haven't really been wanting to write this post until I had more concrete details, and since I'd been gone from home for three nights, I didn't have all the info I needed until this morning.

We get pretty complacent about our security out here in the sticks. Neighbors tend to notice vehicles that "don't belong." When someone gets a new one, everyone else is unsettled until the community is used to seeing the intruder as a regular. We all tend to check out things that seem unusual - if someone is parked by some equipment parked out in the field, they'd better be from the dealership, tire store, or something similar.

Plus, crime is pretty rare - we get left alone, mostly. Keys are left in vehicles. Years ago, our county sheriff advised my father to do just that, in the hopes that a criminal interested in stealing cars and trucks might stay out of the house and just take the vehicle in question. We also tend not to lock our doors. A neighbor might need in for a digestive emergency, or to use the phone, get a drink of water or whatever. We're an accommodating bunch.

So, my house is unlocked most of the time. My front door has settled, and is difficult to shut completely anyways. I broke the key off in the deadbolt the other day and have not managed to extract it or replace the deadbolt. I've got locking gun cabinets in a different location - not this house - but with the slowdown at work, I'd been forced to sell some of my guns. I had some here in the house rather than locked away. Plus, I've got something around for defensive purposes - varmints with two, four and no legs at all figure into my thinking there.

Obviously, y'all know where this is going.

My neighbor lady "J" (who I've mentioned before) happened to drive by Thursday afternoon and saw a strange pickup parked at my place, my front door open, and them walking out in the yard. She knows Rooster doesn't need to be outside, and thought perhaps they were there to do some work on the house. She called me and described the truck. I've got friends who have the run of the place if they want, because I've got a shooting range that they'll use from time to time. So, seeing someone parked there isn't all that unusual, either. However, I couldn't recognize the pickup from J's description. She decided something was up, and turned around in her drive to come back and check it out.

This alarmed the two men, who dropped some of the stuff they were stealing and, jumping in the pickup, took off. She caught them to get a tag (which turned out to be wrong, but that's no big surprise), and they knew the road they were on came to a T intersection. They were hauling ass, but not so fast she couldn't keep up. They even used their turn signal at the intersection. I reminded her that if they had stolen guns, they were armed and she wasn't. At one point, J hung up to have me call the sheriff, since her hands were full trying to drive.

I did and got back with her - the sheriff was on his way - about fifteen minutes ETA. Pretty good, considering I live twelve miles out. The dangerous situation J put herself in became more evident to her, and she gave up the chase. After she got back to my house, J found herself too nervous to go in to check things out. She wanted the sheriff there. I didn't blame her one bit - I thought her bravery was outstanding in the first place.

Our sheriff got there and after a quick perusal of the situation, called me. He had found one of my AKs in it's tacticool case outside on the ground, and my polished aluminum treadplate pistol case with my .22 collection on the porch. My cat was ok, which, honestly, was probably my biggest worry. I'm a pack rat and a lousy housekeeper, so I directed him where to look for my guns. He couldn't find my target/varmint AR15. I asked him about my two lever action guns by the front door, and he thought I still had them. I also had my range bag - a Sears canvas tool bag that had my Kimber Eclipse, all sorts of Chip McCormick mags, some ammo, a nice pair of Peltor electronic shooting muffs, various ammo and speedloaders, and other such shooting detritus. He mentioned I had what looked like a tool bag there, so I was somewhat relieved. It seemed the AR was the only thing missing - I had a selection of pistols on my coffee table, and it sounded like they were all there.

My television, home entertainment center, and collection of now dead and obsolete computers and laptops were all still there. More help was called in and all the remaining guns were hauled off to a safe place away from the house. They are still not here, if you assholes that took them read me, and they won't be when I leave.

After I got home, I checked out what was left at the secure hideout, and found that the tool case was actually a knife roll. So, the Kimber was gone, too. No lever actions, either. I was also missing a blackpowder pistol and a .357.

  • Kimber Eclipse Custom II (external extractor) serial # K147169
  • Smith & Wesson 686-6 8 3/8" barrel serial # LEZ3064
  • Henry Golden Boy .22 H004 serial # GB005815
  • Winchester 94AE Saddle Ring Carbine Large Loop Lever 16" barrel
  • Colt CR6724 CAR-A3 Bushnell 6x18x50 Banner scope, B-Square scope riser, Millet rings, and a Harris HBLM bipod.

I may have a serial number yet on the Winchester, but I never kept the Colt's. Neither of the last two guns are what you'd call common - I dunno - I expect they're all gone for good. No insurance, either.

So, I'm taking tomorrow off to make my house a bit more burglar proof. Not gonna say what I'm doing other than it will be far more difficult to get in. While the neighbor alarm system works, we can all see it's shortcomings. I'll have self defense guns here, too, and after this, I'm pretty willing to use them in a bad situation. They won't be as nice as the missing ones - think, oh, ancient Combloc bolt action carbine for one. I didn't have some of that stuff here because I knew I couldn't sell them for any appreciable amount that would pay bills.

I'm not sure what I'll do as far as replacing these guns. These were part of the "heart" of my collection. Like I said, I'm a packrat, and I've got some safe queens. The Kimber was pretty much a plinking safe queen - it was so pretty I couldn't bear to treat it like a Glock. I'm a 1911 guy, so I'm sure I'll be selling some other things off to get another Kimber or a Springer. I definitely want another lever action 30-30 - a '94 or a 336. I'd also like another lever .22 - another Golden Boy, a 9422, or a 39A. I'm not sure about the "regular" Henrys - they are cheap, but not as well built IMHO as the Golden Boy. The Uberti was a toy to me - unless I can come up with something super cheap, I'll probably never have another.

The AR - man, I just don't know. The prairie dog population is pretty thin in these parts, so that kind of gun isn't something I use regularly as in the past. I really loved that gun - it was so much fun to shoot. Flies at 100 yards? I gave 'em hell. I've still got an AR - M4gery. I've got it set up as a truck gun with a removable carry handle rather than optics. I could just mount a scope on it to hunt the 'dogs, but it isn't an HBAR nor does it have a target style trigger. I could always buy an upper, and I happen to have a lower for a SP1 project I've never started. So, a hot rod trigger group and an upper, then I'm ready.

I could snap shoot the heads of rattlers with that little Henry. That's why it was by the door.

This was my skunk gun. I liked the shorter barrel and my large hands liked the large loop. It shouldered quickly and I just like the ergonomics. Finding one just like this one will be hard - on the budget and just to find one in the first place.

My baby.

The men were probably white, one with a thin face and high cheekbones. They were driving a mid 80s black Chevy pickup. It had some crummy repairs done on the rear with some non matching paint, and a white painted homemade headache rack with expanded mesh metal, taller than the cab. I'm sure there aren't too many trucks around here that look just like that so maybe I'll get lucky.

On the gun forum I visit the subject of how many and what type of guns do we all have invariable comes up. I've always thought listing them online was a bad idea. But, I've also had a lot of people out here shooting over the years, and my rep as a gun owner has spread - and I'm sure the reality is far less than the "image." I'm sure someone I know or know of is aware of these guys. Finding that out - another matter. As a gun owner with an eye to the future, I do like to introduce people to the shooting sports. However, it's incidents like this that make me rethink that position - if word of mouth spreads, I'll be dealing with repeat incidents forever.

So, my thinking now is - J is very brave and lucky. I have great neighbors - but I didn't need this to remind me. My cat is ok and apparently not too bothered about the whole thing. J said he wasn't real wild about the sheriff or the deputy, but he made his presence known to her. I was a FOOL for being lazy and not putting the guns away, plus leaving the house unlocked. It won't happen again. Future intruders won't be able to get in through the doors unless they have a battering ram - not much I can do about that. Windows - not much I can afford to do about that. All I'm looking to do is slow them down and make them think twice - do they really want take the time it's gonna require to get in?

And if I'm here - I'm ready as well.


HEATHER said...

Gosh Jeffro, I'm so sorry! Nothing makes you madder or feel more violated than the sanctity of your home being breached.
I live in a rural community too, but we have had such an explosion of meth, and other drugs that we dare not leave our doors unlocked at all. I even keep them locked in broad daylight when I'm right here. One clue I will give you, if your area has a low-life drug dealer or bootlegger, thats where your guns may be. We had an out building broken into last year and the area bootlegger had my husband's tools. The sheriff was able to get a few things back for us.

Dad Bones said...

It's a shame that's the way the world's turning now. We have a president who's predicting higher unemployment, making crime a growth industry. All you need is an old truck and a few gallons of gas and you can be a part of this booming career field.

Ain't socialism wonderful?

jed said...

Well damnitall, Jeffro. That just sucks.

IIRC, if you're an NRA member, you do have some gun insurance automatically. (I ought to verify that myself.)

Jinglebob said...

Sorry to read about this. Hope they catch them and you get them back or at least the satisfaction of the misery they may go thru'. I guess there is a lesson in this for all us rural dwellers.

The Local Malcontent said...

Man, I'm so sorry to hear about this- and like the other commentors, hope like crazy you get your guns back, and the thieves go to prison.

May I suggest a motion activated camera or video, on your front porch, (like for game) pointing toward your door?
That's what Leti and I have, to assist in our security.
Get the locks fixed, hide a key for your friends to use.

It is a shame that trouble found you. But it's great you have a neighbor like 'J'.

drjim said...

Hope they catch the ba$tard$!

Farm.Dad said...

Out at our place we have a cheap ( about $80) bushnell game cam from wally world painted electric box grey set up to look like a phone/utility box . It works good to track the comings and goings within its limitations .

Jeffro said...

That's a helluva good idea.

threecollie said...

I really hope they catch them!!!
And I like Farm Dad's idea too.

Frank W. James said...

Jeffro: Sorry about the robbery. Funny Farm.Dad mentions trail cameras. I just put two up at the west place. One to watch the back of the house and another to record their license number if they park behind the house. I figure they're cheap enough you can afford two and if one is broken or stolen you still have the second one to record the whole thing. And I think the gray paint is a good idea because the first one IS mounted atop the electrical utility box.

Amazing how great minds think alike, huh?

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Jerry in Texas said...

That just sux. We too keep an eye on each others place. There are only 9 houses on this 2 mile stretch of road. So we know all the vehicles that "should" be here. But almost daily you'll see a strange vehicle.

I have an ADT alarm system. Even if you had an alarm system that wasn't "wired" to the police station, they are loud enough to alert your neighbors. Burglars couldn't stand to stay in the house unless they had earplugs. It is that shrill.

Jaz said...

There are countless benefits of the ADT alarm system. Some essential benefits you’ll have by choosing ADT alarm systems are: initial savings on your installation fee, 5 monitoring centers, Key chain remote, lifetime warranty included, optional cellular back up service, and pet sensitive motion detector included in your equipment package.

Jeffro said...

Does the ADT alarm system summon law enforcement personnel at least an hour before someone actually breaks in? See, that's the lead time it takes a deputy to get to my house.
The criminals can break in and have at least thirty to forty five minutes before the cops even get close. If you've got the time travel thing figured out, I'd be happy to consider your alarm, you fucking spammer.