I read a 9gag post


Most comments are like, the thief got what it deserves.

The law may not agree.

In many states in US and in Indonesia, people that kill or even chase a thief have problems with the law.

What is the law here?

What would you recommend people, if they see someone is stealing stuff from you.

I have heard a case of a black man that shoot a thief stealing property. He only chases at first. But when the thief shoot back he shoot back. He gets charged anyway.


Many like to think that the thieves ask for it and that the law will be on their side. Is it?

Here is a case where someone goes to jail for shooting some thieves that steal his boyfriend car


  • In every country when killing people is illegal you get problem when you are a murder. I don't see how it's hard to follow.
    – user26151
    Jan 21, 2022 at 18:19

1 Answer 1


Self-defence laws vary between countries and states. This should be a general answer for the US and many western countries.

The philosophy of self-defence laws is typically:

  • Self-defence is to prevent harm. It is not for the victim to punish or take revenge on an attacker
  • Self-defence should be proportional to the harm prevented
  • Deadly force should be a last resort

Deadly force is typically only acceptable when the victim is (or believes they or someone else is) in danger of death, rape, abduction, or serious bodily harm and when there is no other option. It is almost never legal to kill someone over property and the law does not have provisions for someone who you think is "asking for it"

As the article says, he could have called the police. It's a car. Not only is it a possession, legally it must be insured. The outrage comes from internet justice supporting the three Rs of punishment (Retaliation, Revenge, Rabblerabblerabble) and not seeing criminals as human.

As for the other examples:

The black man who was shot at could have stopped pursuing at any point. Even when he was being shot at, if he had the opportunity to retreat he was legally obliged to take that rather than kill someone.

The car owners in your other examples did not have the right to kill someone over a vehicle. They were in no danger yet decided to end a life.

  • 3
    "Duty to retreat" is not universal in the US, so "Even when he was being shot at, if he had the opportunity to retreat he was legally obliged to take that rather than kill someone." is wrong in 38 of the 50 states, in those states the person being shot at (if they are not the aggressor) is legally allowed to stand their ground and respond appropriately.
    – Ron Beyer
    Jan 21, 2022 at 14:32
  • @RonBeyer Does that still apply to a situation he put himself in?
    – user40839
    Jan 21, 2022 at 15:28
  • @RonBeyer, these laws are also extended in some states (like Georgia) to property defense as well. Georgia defense of use of deadly force statutes extends to habitation (including vehicles) and real property. But I don't think any state lets you chase after a thief to shoot them.
    – Tiger Guy
    Jan 21, 2022 at 15:53
  • Like I said, if he is not the aggressor... For example if he tried to pull the thief from his car, and the thief pulled a weapon on him or threatened him with harm, he could stand his ground and use deadly force to protect himself.
    – Ron Beyer
    Jan 21, 2022 at 15:53
  • @TigerGuy Texas is one of those states that allows deadly force to protect certain property. See Texas application of Castle Doctrine, even chasing after a thief may apply depending on circumstances.
    – Ron Beyer
    Jan 21, 2022 at 15:56

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