Homesteading with a Shipping Container House – Part 5, The Theft

February 21, 2011

In part 4, we left off with the failure of the 90-day experiment and the delivery of the first shipping container. I had hoped to have a lot of good news for this installment of the series, but alas, this will be a brief update with somber news.

I returned to the property this weekend in order to start setting up forms for concrete footings. Upon my arrival, I noticed my little weedeater (from part 2!) was moved. I then noticed that all of my hand tools and a few power tools were sitting in Rubbermaid totes near my pile of building materials. I did not leave them there. My heart raced. Someone was stealing my stuff!

I scanned the property quickly, hoping to see the thief running away but nothing. Literally. Where my enclosed cargo trailer once sat, was now barren dirt. My camping trailer had been stolen! I purchased this trailer with cash after saving for months and months. I carpeted the interior, cleaned it up and installed a camper door on the side. This was the perfect trailer. It was low-profile and cozy for extended camping trips, bug-out situations and disaster response. And now it was gone.

I had a lot of great memories in that trailer and it had traveled all over.  It was always my emergency back-up plan in case of disaster and for extended road-trips.  Now in the hands of some thief who would sell it for pennies on the dollar or let it rot to pieces in his backyard, full of his storage junk.  And if that were not bad enough…

I walk up to my shed cabin, looking it over and sighing in relief that it did not appear to have been broken in.  No damage, no pry marks.  At least my property was safe inside.  I unlocked it and as I pulled it open, the entire door fell off the hinges.  The thieves had carefully taken out all of the security-screws.  I didn’t even want to look inside and see what was missing.  My heart sank.  This shed contained just about everything I owned.  I had used it primarily as storage space since moving into a small place in the downtown area.

Immediately, I noticed my new miter saw and other tools were missing.  I went to check under the bed – where I kept all of my spare ammunition and a few guns.

Empty.  Nothing.

I had been wiped out.  One of my very favorite guns, my AK47 (sentimental value) was gone, along with over 1,000 rounds of .223, 500+ rounds of 7.62×39, 500 rounds of rather expensive, defensive .40 caliber ammo, 250+ rounds of assorted 12 gauge and all of my gunsmithing tools and accessories.  AR tools, sights, extra parts and all of my spare magazines.  Gone.  I had roughly 30 mags for the AK47 and at least 30, if not more, for my AR15. [Editor's Note: Yes, I know, I know.  Op-Sec.  Operational Security.  But it's all gone now, so I'm not too worried!]

I just kind of sat there, bewildered for a moment.

I went outside to look at what else was gone and noticed the inserts to my BBQ grill had been taken out and stacked next to it, prepped for transportation.  Several large Rubbermaid totes were sitting next to this, also ready for transportation and a return visit.  My hunting bow and weedeater were laying next to the shed, as well.  They planned to come back!

To make a long story short, I spend the rest of the day moving items into my shipping container for safety with a total loss of over $5,500.

At the beginning of the 90-day experiment.

 

I now had no space to work inside of the container or prep the floors, though.  I purchased several cut resistent, magnum locks and a disc-lock and secured the doors with 3/8″ zinc-coated chains.  I placed signs on the door of my shed that read, “Smile!  You are on camera!” and put another one near the entrance of the property, directly in the middle of my road.  I laid a thin wire across the entrance to the property, wrapping it around 50+ roofing nails, all pointed upwards, in order to create a temporary spike strip.

I am in the process of installing wildlife cameras in order to take a photograph of the perpetrators should they return, along with a large cattle gate.  But all of this costs money.  Money that I don’t have to spare at the moment.  My focus was to get the shipping container level and up on concrete footings so that I could start working on it.  And now, sadly, my priorities have had to shift to fortifying the place and managing access control.  I will now at least know what their vehicle looks like when they come back so that I can start a grid-pattern search for them in the area.  They are definitely locals – within a 10 mile radius, I suspect.  The local county sheriff’s department have no investigators, so I’m literally on my own here.  I also didn’t have theft insurance coverage for my shed and the trailer was always covered under my vehicle insurance.  Except when it’s sitting by itself!   Bad move.

When I lived in New Orleans, I had a burglar enter my home while I was sleeping.  I chased him out and got a good look at his vehicle as he sped off.  I then spent the next 24 hours searching that side of the city in a grid pattern until I found it parked in front of his house.  After several hours of surveillance, I identified the suspect while he was on the porch.  He had a lengthy history of residential burglaries and it was definitely the guy I found myself face to face with inside of my house. I called my task force partners over to the location and needless to say, we apprehended the guy.  In the corrupt courts of New Orleans - which stand as a sorry excuse for criminal justice – he was found not guilty and released.  Luckily, before he could leave the courtroom, I had already confirmed additional warrants out of Houston, Texas for residential burglary and arrested him in the courtroom as a fugitive.  The Judge and deputies began to freak out, saying, “He was found not guilty, Officer!  Take those handcuffs off of him!”

He was booked on felony fugitive warrants and extradited to Houston on grand jury indictments.  I’m sure he’s still rotting in some Texas prison.  At least Texas offered me a bit of justice.

I digress, but I will find these thieves if I can just get a picture of them or their vehicle.  I will spend the next few years looking for them if needed, because if that did that to me , they’ve done it to others and will continue.

In part 6, hopefully we’ll be able to cover the concrete footings of the container and what I’ve done to prevent access to the property.  I’ll be placing a large tubular steel cattle gate at the entrance.  I’d like to install some metal poles, filled with concrete across the front of the property, near the road.  That should prevent anyone driving around the gate and the creek protects me from vehicle access on the other sides.  My neighbors to the north have a very tough steel gate system in place, surrounded by trees, so that protects me from vehicle approach from the only other access point.

Any recommendations for barriers, barricades, traps, wildlife cameras, etc?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/james.day.9440 James Day

    Wow man that sucks Typical for NO court. I am from baton rouge so I know of the social problems in la They suck bad Good luck interesting site you have