B.C. couple uses paintball gun to ward off thieves
A Chilliwack couple is taking the law into their own hands by shooting paintballs at the thieves who repeatedly rob them.
It's a desperate tactic that police say could be illegal in most circumstances -- but Rob and Nicole Iezzi say they've already tried everything else.
"This is a constant problem. It's an escalating problem in our town," said Nicole.
The couple say they are not taking this step lightly, saying they have been robbed of iPods, hand tools, Leathermans, and attachments for their truck, at a cost of thousands. One friend's purse was also stolen from their truck in their driveway, resulting in identity theft.
The thieves have hurt them too, pepper-spraying Nicole in her doorway in a bid to steal her cellphone, and clubbing their Rottweiler to death in the yard when it challenged them.
They tried calling the police, putting up security cameras, improving their fences, and put in better locks but the thieves keep coming back.
So that's when they decided to fight back -- with a paintball gun.
Videos the couple has posted online show them rushing out to challenge thieves, firing paint at them as the thieves scurry away on their bicycles. Even Nicole has fired at one, shooting as he left on the street.
"He came this way and I just pop, pop, pop," she said.
The couple said they take no pleasure in firing at thieves -- just hoping to send the message that their property is not to be trifled with. It was only after some deliberation that Rob, who has a firearms license, decided on paintballs.
"I didn't want to shoot him with a pellet gun, because you're going to make him bleed. With a paintball, it's like getting punched. I didn't want to punch him, so a paintball seemed like the logical thing," he said.
It also doesn't go through walls and won't hurt a neighbour, he said.
But Chilliwack RCMP are warning that vigilante justice could be dangerous and illegal.
"We understand that people are frustrated," said Const. Tracey Wolbeck.
Shooting paintballs could escalate a nonviolent property offense into a violent crime, Wplbeck said, and the thief could react, putting the property owner in danger.
On top of that, attacking someone with a paintball could be considered an assault, potentially resulting in charges.
"In extreme cases we could see assault with a weapon," Wolbeck said.
But the Iezzis say there hasn't been charges for the thieves that they know of, while the paintball guns have worked to scare some thieves off.
They say they support the RCMP and want to see the thieves brought to justice.
Wolbeck said Chilliwack property crime is down this year in general but theft from vehicle rates have gone up. A local paper reported theft from vehicle rates have risen 25 per cent since last year.
Chilliwack city councillor Jason Lum urged people to work with the RCMP, saying the city has programs aimed at reducing crime.
Much of this crime is rooted in people trying to steal to feed a drug habit and the city is hoping to help those addicts, he said.