Matthew Haight survived an encounter with a burglar, but not by much. He acknowledges that he made mistakes, and they cost him a great deal.
Haight came home from watching the Superbowl on Sunday night, the 1st of February, 2015 in Snohomish County, Washington State. When he walked up the stairs to his apartment, he discovered that something was not right. The door was unlocked. That is when he made a mistake. He went inside to investigate. This is an easy mistake to make. Sometimes people forget to lock doors. Sometimes they give keys to other people. It is impractical to call the police every time that you simply find a door unlocked, unless you are rigorous in your security protocols. Matthew does not say if there were signs of a forced entry. If that were the case, a call to 911 is a good idea. At least you will have backup on the way.
There are things that you can do differently, of course. If you have a dog, and they do not greet you or come to you, your warning level will rise significantly.
You can have a weapon with you. Matthew had not taken his pistol with him, but had left it in a closet, unloaded. Some would say that was the second mistake.
Matthew entered, and ended up face to face with the burglar. It is not clear if he could have accessed his pistol from the closet before the encounter. From kirotv.com:
Haight says he acted on instinct by running to his closet to grab his gun and load it.
“Unfortunately for me, everything went south,” said Haight.
The burglar followed him and they struggled.
Sometimes acting on instinct works. Many times it does not. This was one of those times. We cannot know if there would have been a different outcome if the pistol had been loaded, and we are not told how long it took to load it. But with a hostile on your tail, a fraction of a second can be too long. It was in this case. Matthew says:
“I wasn’t able to raise the gun up in time to aim at him.”
A little training in retention techniques or hand to hand might have helped. We are not told if Matthew had any. They struggled. Matthew felt the gun twisting in his hand; then it was fired and a bullet went through his stomach and colon and out his back. He faces a long and painful recovery. The burglar dropped the gun and ran off.
There are several lessons to be learned. First, avoid this kind of encounter if you can. If you think that there may be an intruder, but are not certain enough to call police, arm yourself first. To this end, if you are armed on the way home, you will not have to enter the house to access a weapon.
Perhaps you have a neighbor who can assist you. Calling a neighbor is a lot less hassle than calling 911 on a non-existent burglar. Maintaining good relations with your neighbors almost always results in substantial benefits. Burglars are less likely to attack two or three people.
I like the idea of stand off barriers to provide more security. They also make it harder to forget to lock a door. Forgetting one door; almost everyone has done it at least once. Two? Not so likely.
I have a neighbor who hoses down her driveway every morning. There is dirt between the street and her patio. She sees a record, on the dirt, of how many people have come up to her door every day. Cheap cameras and remote control are making video records of your door relatively easy. There are systems that would allow you to see the video on your smart phone. If your camera(s) were disabled, that would be a good sign that the situation was serious. I recently had a camera shot off of a pole at a remote property, with a shotgun. The signs were that the burglars left in a hurry, once they discovered that they were being photographed.
Almost certainly, if Matthew had been armed, and had kept the weapon close to his body when he entered, he either would have been able to fire, or the burglar would have given up or run off.
I hope that Matthew recovers from his ordeal, and does not blame himself too badly. It was an easy mistake to make. I am glad that he survived.
©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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