RV Dealer Arrested for Protecting His Property

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August 30, 2010 by   7 Comments

Aerial view of Ed Garner's Autorama RV Center in Des Moines, Iowa

Aerial view of Ed Garner's Autorama RV Center in Des Moines, Iowa

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.”

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7 Responses to “RV Dealer Arrested for Protecting His Property”

  1. John on August 30th, 2010 1:30 pm

    I wonder, did the police even look for the suspected thief, that was already trespassing on this man’s property?

  2. Dick Ackerman on August 30th, 2010 1:34 pm

    It would seem the cops are more concerned with protecting the thieves these days. I wouldn’t be too surprised if their unions were not lobbying for more crooks rights just to preserve their jobs. If the crime rate were to decrease too much some of them might have to find other jobs and not too many pay what cops make these days.

  3. Darb on August 30th, 2010 3:55 pm

    Most state gun laws don’t allow you to protect your home, property or any possessions. Gun laws allow you to protect your life and your families life only. Life for a life. Even if someone breaks into your house, unless you feel like your life is in danger, do not pull trigger or threaten to do so. If you shoot an unarmed burglar you could potentially spend tens of thousands of dollars in a civil suit with the deceased family members. Not to mention the fact you have to live with the fact you ended someones life.

  4. Bob Taylor on August 30th, 2010 8:15 pm

    I would like to be on the jury.

  5. Larry on August 31st, 2010 7:36 am

    Just goes to show who has the rights. More people need to protect there own property. Don’t give up Mr, Garner.

  6. GW on August 31st, 2010 9:16 am

    The police and laws in this world are for the rich and thief’s. People we better take our country back and NOW or it will be way to late, we are already a policed country.
    Look at all the thief’s we have in Washington DC .

  7. John on August 31st, 2010 9:23 am


    I believe you are correct in stating that “most” state gun laws do not allow for protection of property, but of life only. And I believe you are also correct in stating that even if the shoot is determined to be a good one (a justifiable use of deadly force) then you may spend $20k or more in defense of a civil suit brought by the family of the deceased. But my life and the life of any one near me is worth at least THAT expense. It’s too bad that most thieves don’t value their own lives that much.

    The problem in this story seems to be that, although I commend the man for taking action to defend his property, he apparently didn’t call the police himself prior to going to his property. That alone could have saved him a bundle of time and expense. He still could have gone to the property, but at least the police would have known what was going on and may have had a chance to convince the property owner not to take his gun.

    We may not agree with the laws under we we live in any given community, but we will suffer under them if not followed and detected. In this case I fully understand the man’s frustration and motivation. I also understand that breaking one law is not always the best way to stop the breaking of another.