82-Year-Old Man Nabs 2 Crooks: Police - NBC 10 Philadelphia

82-Year-Old Man Nabs 2 Crooks: Police

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Fed Up & Fighting Back: Grandpa's Got a Gun

    82-year-old Joe Harper from Delaware fought back against two thieves who were stealing from his property. NBC10's Tim Furlong has the story. (Published Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011)

    An elderly man from Newark, Delaware took the law into his own hands after being the victim of several burglaries.

    On Dec. 10, 82-year-old Joe Harper allegedly discovered two men putting his generator and metal items from his yard in their truck outside his house near Champan Road. Harper had been tipped off by his son who claimed that a friend who works near the home saw the thieves committing the act.

    The Korean War veteran, who suffers from Leukemia and diabetes, took action and shot out one of their tires as the men tried to speed away. Harper then held the men at gunpoint until police arrived to arrest them.

    “They had the idea they were going to rush me,” said Harper. “I told them ‘don’t even think about it. I said ‘one more step and it’ll be your last step!”

    Harper was allegedly burglarized twice before that during October at both his Chapman Road home and the Shannon Inn, which he owns and is in the process of restoring with his son. Harper claims that the thieves stole more than $30,000 worth of kitchen equipment from the inn.

    Harper served as a combat instructor during the Korean War before spending 41 years as a high school teacher.

    Despite his heroics, the Delaware State Police strongly urge robbery victims to not follow his example.

    “We strongly recommend people call the police,” said Corporal Jeffrey Hale. “Give good descriptions, but don’t take the law into your own hands.”

    Harper says he would do the exact same thing however if he had to do it again. He also wishes for tougher laws in Delaware.

    “First of all we need to get a law like you got in Florida, for criminal trespassing,” said Harper. “You get you’re a** shot. You’re dead and that’s it.”

    The two alleged robbers, 41-year-old William Rafter of Clayton and 30-year-old Mark Sturgill of Bridgeton, N.J. face felony theft and conspiracy charges.