Deadly Force- Can You Use It to Protect Your Neighbor

Would you consider this a crime?

“A so-called “castle doctrine” law recently passed in Texas allows people to use deadly force to protect their homes and property. However, a case in which a Houston-area man in his 70’s killed two apparent burglars he observed breaking into his neighbor’s house has raised new questions about how far that doctrine might extend.

The man called an emergency dispatcher when he first saw the alleged burglars, saying “I’ve got a shotgun, do you want me to stop them?”

“Nope, don’t do that,” replied the dispatcher. “Ain’t no property worth shooting somebody over, ok? … I’ve got officers coming out there. I don’t want you to go outside that house.”

“I understand that,” the caller replied, “but I have a right to protect myself too, sir, and you understand that. And the laws have been changed in this country since September the 1st, and you know it and I know it.”

After five minutes, the dispatcher was no longer able to restrain the caller, who stepped outside and shot both men, reporting, “Here it goes, buddy. You hear the shotgun clicking and I’m going. … Boom, you’re dead. … I had no choice.”

A grand jury will decide whether the man can be charged with a crime. He will probably be found to have acted legally if it is determined that the neighbor whose house was broken into had asked him to protect his property, but not otherwise.”

Japanese Crime Stopping Tools

This article in the NY Times caught my eye. Credit for the picture also goes to the Times.

TOKYO, Oct. 19 — On a narrow Tokyo street, near a beef bowl restaurant and a pachinko parlor, Aya Tsukioka demonstrated new clothing designs that she hopes will ease Japan’s growing fears of crime.

Deftly, Ms. Tsukioka, a 29-year-old experimental fashion designer, lifted a flap on her skirt to reveal a large sheet of cloth printed in bright red with a soft drink logo partly visible. By holding the sheet open and stepping to the side of the road, she showed how a woman walking alone could elude pursuers — by disguising herself as a vending machine.

The wearer hides behind the sheet, printed with an actual-size photo of a vending machine. Ms. Tsukioka’s clothing is still in development, but she already has several versions, including one that unfolds from a kimono and a deluxe model with four sides for more complete camouflaging.

These elaborate defenses are coming at a time when crime rates are actually declining in Japan. But the Japanese, sensitive to the slightest signs of social fraying, say they feel growing anxiety about safety, fanned by sensationalist news media. Instead of pepper spray, though, they are devising a variety of novel solutions, some high-tech, others quirky, but all reflecting a peculiarly Japanese sensibility.

Take the “manhole bag,” a purse that can hide valuables by unfolding to look like a sewer cover. Lay it on the street with your wallet inside, and unwitting thieves are supposed to walk right by. There is also a line of knife-proof high school uniforms made with the same material as Kevlar, and a book with tips on how to dress even the nerdiest children like “pseudohoodlums” to fend off schoolyard bullies.

There are pastel-colored cellphones for children that parents can track, and a chip for backpacks that signals when children enter and leave school.

The devices’ creators admit that some of their ideas may seem far-fetched, especially to crime-hardened Americans. And even some Japanese find some of them a tad naïve, possibly reflecting the nation’s relative lack of experience with actual street crime. Despite media attention on a few sensational cases, the rate of violent crime remains just one-seventh of America’s.

I see more than one problem with these hiding places. For example, the feet protruding from the bottom of the fake vending machine. The whole idea gives off a Scooby Doo or Three Stooges kind of feel to it.