Florida Gun Owner Catches Thief Red-Handed

They say that every man has his price. How much money would tempt you into starting a life of crime? Would you risk getting shot for one million dollars? One hundred million dollars? What about a bucket full of copper wiring and two tennis rackets?

According to local Fox News, a homeowner caught a thief red-handed (or should we say “copper-handed”) who was trying to strip copper wiring from his garage.

It all started when 59-year-old Benton Ledbetter heard a noise around 11:30 Monday morning outside of his New Smyrna Beach home in Florida. Ledbetter’s first thought was that it was an animal, but he grabbed his revolver (what looks like an old Smith & Wesson) just to be on the safe side (wouldn’t you?), called 911, and went to investigate.

Ledbetter may have been expecting a dog or a raccoon rifling through his stuff, but he found a scavenger of a different sort – 39-year-old Charles Price. Ledbetter described the encounter to WFTV News, “As I’m walking around the bar from the kitchen, boom, there he is, coming at me and he’s got this saw in his hand. And I’m thinking that would hurt if it hit me.”

Yeah, getting smacked with a saw probably would hurt a little bit, wouldn’t it? Ledbetter wasn’t about to find out. He ordered Price, “’Stay right there’ and I said, ‘Drop what you got there and get down on the ground.'”

Price, who was wanted for failure to pay child support, had approached Ledbetter’s home through the woods and was attempting to scavenge copper and aluminum to sell. He had also nabbed two of Ledbetter’s tennis rackets. Price later told police that he thought the home was abandoned, as if that somehow makes it less of a crime.

Ledbetter was on the phone with dispatch while the two men waited for the police to arrive. That’s when Ledbetter said one of the best self-defense quotes we’ve heard all month: “I don’t plan on shooting him, but if he does something stupid what else am I supposed to do?”

Yep, that’s how it goes. Most people are perfectly content to live and let live, but when you break into a guy’s home and come at him with a saw, that’s when you violate the “let’s all be nice to each other” social contract.

The police eventually arrived and slapped Price in cuffs. They charged him with burglary and for not paying child support. It’s a bit surprising that they didn’t also charge him with whatever Florida law would call “rushing a guy with a handsaw.”

The good news is that Price should be on his way to the courtroom, but the bad news is that Ledbetter is still left to pick up the pieces. Price may not have run off with any of the wiring, but Ledbetter estimates that Price did about $10,000 in damages to his home.

We’re glad that Ledbetter was able to defend his home, but we might have an answer to his question, “If he does something stupid what else am I supposed to do?” San Jose police spokesman Albert Morales probably would have preferred it if Ledbetter had just let Price go. What do you think? Is that good self-defense advice?