When we last talked I said I would tell the story of me almost shooting Dale Jr, but first I think we need to dwell in to what I called the psyche of certain burglars and what they are trying to accomplish. We will also discuss ways to dissuade these types of criminals from your home and neighborhood. This will take a couple of postings so please be patient with the length as I think it will help with your home and business security. I have always classified burglars in to four categories during my career. They are the Professional, the gang bangers, the crack head or meth head (you can substitute any drug addiction here) and the everyday run of the mill Burglar. Using my experience and research we will discuss each one in depth. The first is the Professional. This is the person you see imitated in the movies or on television. The vast majority of people will never have to deal with this level of thief because most homes and businesses do not possess the level of high end material this kind of burglar would seek or bother. This is the burglar who steals the artwork worth millions, the jewelry that cost more than most of us make in a lifetime or the secret file someone has. They go in to a building and work their way through the most sophisticated alarms’ and they leave no trace of any kind and most victims do not even know they were there unless they look for the specific item stolen. I personally have only known of one these and it was discovered a week after the incident.
The next time we talk I will go over the burglars that affect most of us on a daily basis. Now for my Dale Jr. story. Every cop has a story or two like this whether they admit it or not.
When on patrol, every officer should be checking the businesses in their district to be preventing burglaries and other crimes. You ride by, you look around physical plant and through the windows and doors to observe anything out of place. Most officers check these businesses so much that it is a habit that they do even when off duty, I still look in convenience stores when I ride by and I have been retired for many years. We had this one convenience store that had been hit several times to the point I had caught two burglaries in progress myself and the other night shift had caught one on their watch. The way I caught mine was riding by and suddenly I saw a head pop up over a counter as I drove by the gas pumps. I slowly pulled to the side got out of my vehicle and eased my way to the front window. When he saw me he hit the floor. I ended up figuring out that he came in through the roof of the building by ladder.
A few weeks later I am driving through the same parking lot and I see another head pop up over the counter. I immediately recognize that there are no broken windows so I assume this burglar had also entered through the ceiling of the business as there is no back door. I call on the radio that I have a possible burglary in progress and give out the address and to start back-up. I park to the side of the business and silently exit my vehicle. I am flat against the wall, weapon drawn, as I begin to circle the building from the side towards the back. Cutting the corner, I have my Smith and Wesson nine millimeter pointed toward what I am sure will be the ladder the suspect is using. Only there is no ladder! I stand there wondering
how did he get in? He must have broken the deadbolt or it could be an inside job and he has a key I thought. I swiftly and stealthily move to the other side of the building stopping by the ICE machine at the front right corner of the store. Bending over so as not to be seen I slide along the front of the machine feeling the coolness as my back rubs against the doors. Stopping just before being exposed I peek over the edge. I see the head of a man standing there in the darkness of the store. He is looking straight at me. I duck quickly.
I take a deep breath and steady myself. With my flashlight in one hand and my pistol in the other hand I step around the corner of the machine ready to fire at an instant if needed. I shine the beam of my light towards the man ready for action. I suddenly realize he has something in his hand and not recognizing what it was and for fear it was a gun I jumped back waiting for the sound of gunfire. Nothing happens. I hear sirens in the background and I know my back up is on the way. I slide halfway down the ICE machine and get ready to shine my light at the subject from a different angle, perhaps to catch him off guard for what is surely going to be a very dangerous shoot out. Again, I shoot the beam in to the store window aiming towards his head prepared for gunfire. I realize he hadn’t moved an inch as I turn back to my cover position. He was ready for a gunfight. Although something was eerily familiar about his face. Then it hit me!
I stood up and stepped out from behind the machine. With my light on steady beam shining in to his eyes I instantly recognized the burglar. It was Dale Earnhardt Junior, standing there in his racing suit and in his hands, was a Diet Mountain Dew. Of course, he was made of cardboard!
I quickly grabbed my radio and told the dispatcher to disregard, it was the owner closing the store for the night. I could hear the sirens toning down and cutting off as I got in to my car and drove off in to the night. I always wondered if I had shot the cardboard Dale Jr. that night, would the real Dale Jr. have ever known about it and whether my fellow officers would have ever let me here the end of it. The latter I am positive would have never happened.