Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Man Scares Package Thieves With Box Rigged With Shotgun Blanks

A delivered package mysteriously going missing from your doorstep is a real problem. CNBC reports that 10 percent of us will be victims of package theft, which will only increase during the holiday season. And while we could take precautionary measures like having packages delivered to our workplaces or requiring signatures for delivery, where's the fun in that?

Instead, let's rig an empty box with some fishing wire and a 12-gauge shotgun blank that goes off when someone tries to steal the box.

Pop! Pop!

"It's fully contained," explains Jaireme Barrow, inventor of the so-called "Blank Box." "You can move it around however you want. You don't have to worry about it going off. Leave it on the porch all day and then when someone comes up to pick it up -- pop! pop! -- that's when it goes off." And it looks pretty effective.

Barrow also assures users the rigged box is "100 percent safe." "Everything I test out myself," he said. "It's all hands-on, made in America. Every one of these is built with love." The love of seeing a would-be porch pirate leap in fear and flee, rather than absconding with your delivery.

Brutally Savage and Inhuman

As Tacoma police noted, however, your little scare tactic could backfire on you. Trap guns -- mechanical devices designed to fire weapons at burglars or trespassers -- are illegal and most jurisdictions apply civil liability for death or injuries inflicted by such devices. The California Supreme Court noted:

Allowing persons, at their own risk, to employ deadly mechanical devices imperils the lives of children, firemen and policemen acting within the scope of their employment, and others. Where the actor is present, there is always the possibility he will realize that deadly force is not necessary, but deadly mechanical devices are without mercy or discretion. Such devices 'are silent instrumentalities of death. They deal death and destruction to the innocent as well as the criminal intruder without the slightest warning. The taking of human life (or infliction of great bodily injury) by such means is brutally savage and inhuman.'

Law enforcement advises that you're better off filing a police report and handing over video surveillance to investigators. Or you could just fill the box with poop instead.

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