RV Dealer Arrested for Protecting His Property
The owner the Autorama RV Center in Des Moines, Iowa, said he was protecting his business from thieves and wound up getting arrested, the Des Moines Register reported.
Ed Garner said he has been selling recreational vehicles at his business for 42 years, but recently had trouble with burglars breaking in.
“We lost over $80,000 worth of TVs and stereos,” Garner said.
When his night watchmen called in on Thursday (Aug. 26), Garner said he decided to patrol the lots himself, driving up and down Southeast 14th Street to keep an eye on his four gated lots.
“If they keep on stealing from me, I can’t stay in business,” he said.
An off-duty police officer who was watching another RV lot nearby called in Garner’s vehicle because he thought it was suspicious.
“I said, ‘I’m Ed Garner. I own Autorama RV Center on East 14th Street and I’ve got a burglary suspect here on one of these lots and I”m cruising up and down here to see if I can find where he is at,’” Garner said.
Garner said police weren’t worried about the thief, but about the loaded shotgun he had on his passenger’s seat. Garner, 68, said he didn’t plan to fire it.
“If I catch somebody, I’m going to hold them by gunpoint until police get here, because I can’t chase them down,” Garner said.
He said the officers arrested him, impounded his vehicle and he wound up spending the night in jail.
“They turn around and arrest the property owner for trying to defend his own property, it’s unreal,” Garner said.
“Arming ourselves is not going to the be the answer to this problem,” said Des Moines police Sgt. Christopher Scott. “Iowa law doesn’t allow us to protect our business with deadly force. If he was to shoot somebody, he could potentially go to prison. Iowa law allows us to protect our homes and our homes only.”