by Joe Kirkpatrick
Make my day! I've been "re-building" a house over the past seven years, paying as I go. The house is located on a well traveled road inside the City of Cleveland, Tennessee, and by no means is secluded from the road.
The first theft occurred five years ago, when I was first starting construction. It was probably my fault - I left the garage door open, which, by the way, is not visible from the road. It happened while I was gone to lunch for about forty-five minutes. When I came back, my air compressor and my step ladder were gone. Isn't it a shame that we are so conditioned now to scum and their thievery that if we now leave a door open and have something stolen, we now feel it is our fault? It really doesn't matter - had I caught them, I didn't have a gun back then so they would have gotten away with it anyway.
The next year, I needed a new pool liner for my pool at the same house. I had a fellow by the name of David Williams tell me he would do it, and what an expert he was. I checked, and he had worked at another local pool company for 17 years, and seemed to know what he was doing. He said needed $1000 deposit to order the liner, which should take about two weeks to come in. After three or four weeks had passed, I called him and he said it ought to be in any day. He did come over, pumped the water out, and removed the old liner. A couple of weeks passed, and I started trying to call him and constantly getting the message "the person who you are calling has a mailbox that is full." Bottom line is, after several months, I found out where he was living and had him arrested for larceny. After waiting several more months, it finally went to court where the Asst. District Attorney asked me if he paid the $1000, would I be agreeable to dismissing the charges. I did not want to, but since I own a business and have to close it to go to court, I agreed to do so. I could not imagine where David came up with the $1000. About a month later, I found out. One day, David's brother called me and asked what he needed to do to get all of his tools back from me. I told him all the tools David ever had at my pool was a cheap pump with a broken outlet on it, and a old model shop vac. "S**T" I heard on the other end of the phone. Evidently, David had borrowed quite a bit of tools and equipment from his brother, and had sold or pawned them. He had then told his brother I had all these tools, and he had to pay me $1000 to get them back, so the brother had loaned David $1000 so he could get his own tools back. It's one thing to screw a stranger, but to be low enough to screw your brother? Too bad I didn't have my gun back then.
The next year, I was out of town for a few days and came back to a full fledged break in. A new Jenn-Air Oven, a motorized post hole digger, all of my wire and breakers, and $3000 of other things were stolen. To ad insult to injury, remember the air compressor stolen in the first one? I had finally bought a replacement, had never used it once - it was stolen in this break in. I had a pretty good idea who did it, but fingerprints?! Evidently they don't do that on what they consider "minor" offenses. Too bad I didn't have my gun back then.
It's been two years since the last one, and I had thought I was on a lucky streak. That is, until a few months ago when I went out to put the 200 pound, $500 shovel on my front end loader. I leave it down near the woods, nowhere visible from the road. In fact, I usually keep it somewhat covered with leaves to a point I have a hard time finding it. It was not there - hit again! Too bad I didn't have my gun back then.
I've now got a gun and I am waiting!! I've been warned not to take the law in my own hands. I've been warned that if I shoot someone for stealing from me, I, most likely, will be the one who will go to prison. In younger years, the thought of going to prison for defending my home and property would have seemed absurd! Oh, how things have changed. Today, me shooting a thief who is stealing from me on my property clearly makes me the criminal. Is going to prison a deterrent for me at my age? Well, my friend, it isn't, because that has changed too. "On the inside" (that is prison lingo - I'm already learning it}, since I am in my 60's, I will be placed in a geriatric ward with cable TV, free room and board, free clothing, and best of all at my age, free medical, dental, and eyewear as well. Wow, why didn't I get a gun sooner?