SPOKANE, Wash. - An increase in package thefts across the region has pushed some people to take measures into their own hands to teach criminals a lesson.
A Lewiston, ID man said a thief stole decorations and packages from the porch multiple times this fall. He recently invested in a security camera and then took it one step further. He hid a shotgun shell blank on his porch and connected it to a bait box with a piece of fishing wire. When the potential thief came up to the porch Sunday night to take the box, it triggered a loud bang from the blank. The loud noise sent the suspected thief running.
While many people who've seen the video commend the Lewiston man for his creativity, authorities say it's best to let them handle catching and punishing criminals.
Spokane County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Johnston said it's important to remember that "no property or no item is worth someone's safety. Plus, Johnston said attacking the suspect could lead to legal trouble depending on the situation.
"Even though they were committing a theft and stealing a package, if they wre to get hurt, you could potentially face criminal charges for doing that," Johnston said.
Johnston explained that people have the right to defend themselves if they feel like their life is in danger or they're being threatened. According to Johnston, your actions need to be a reasonable and necessary response to the situation. He encouraged people to call 911 if they see a crime happening.
"While I fully understand people's frustration, it is the best plan to be a good witness, pay attention to what's going on and take those steps on the front side to try and avoid becoming a victim to begin with," Johnston said.
The deputy recommends investing in home security systems. He said there are a variety of products, including doorbell cameras, that people can use to keep an eye on their property.
"The faster you know that somebody is there, whether they belong there or don't belong there, the quicker you can react to that," Johnston said.