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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

September 29, 2008 at 4:27 PM

Protecting your property

Property owners should have right to defend themselves

The Times reports that the shooting of a car prowler in North Seattle has landed the shooter/car owner in jail, facing a potentially serious prison sentence [“North Side teen jailed in slaying of car prowler,” news, Sept. 26].

A Snohomish County deputy prosecutor said, “To use deadly force you have to have a fear of death or deadly injury, whether they are breaking into your house, see you on the street, or are breaking into your car. You are entitled to defend personal property in this state. The question then is can excessive force be used?”

Yet another Snohomish County deputy prosecutor said, “You can’t use deadly force merely to protect personal property.”

The Times story also reported that car prowlers have shot a number of car owners when they went to check their cars. Do we then interpret this to mean that car and home owners are required to give the thieves and intruders the right to shoot, stab or maim first so they can later prove they were really and truly under deadly threat? If a home invader, burglar or mugger says they intend us no physical harm but intend to carry off our belongings, are we then legally obligated to sit meekly by while we are robbed, or do we ask them nicely to please wait while we call the police?

When a thief decides to steal someone’s property, he is tacitly agreeing that his life is worth exactly the value of whatever he’s stealing. That’s the risk he is voluntarily taking and the consequences should rest squarely on him. If a thief breaks into your home you should not be under legal constraint to determine his intentions or state of mind before taking whatever action you deem necessary to preserve and protect yourself or your property.

Prosecutors can take whatever time they want after the fact to ponder and debate the nuances of a case like this before deciding if the amount of force used was excessive or not.

When confronted by a predator, the person defending himself and his property does not have that luxury.

— Lee Fowble, Edmonds

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