A man in New Orleans, USA, developed a method to prevent thieves from breaking into his car by rigging a flashbang to detonate if someone broke in. A flashbang is an explosive device that triggers a temporarily blinding flash of light and a loud noise. Such devices stun and disorient people who are nearby.


Could this man be liable for injuries caused by the explosive device?

  • 2
    See also law.stackexchange.com/questions/3970/… Apr 6, 2022 at 16:18
  • 1
    Not only liable for injury, but subject ot arrest fo rpossesion and use of an explosive device.
    – Tiger Guy
    Apr 6, 2022 at 23:22
  • 1
    @TigerGuy: That would depend upon the size and power of the device in question. Some states allow novelty fireworks that could be stunning and disorienting if set off at short range.
    – supercat
    Apr 7, 2022 at 5:30

1 Answer 1


Yes. This sounds equivalent to the famous case of Katko v. Briney, 183 N.W.2d 657 (Iowa 1971). A shotgun trap was set up in an abandoned house owned by Edward and Bertha Briney. A thief broke in and was seriously injured. After the thief had served his sentance for the attempted theft he sued the homeowners and won $20,000 in actual damages and $10,000 in punitive damages.

  • 14
    And that was for injury to the thief himself. If innocent bystanders had been injured, as seems to be a serious risk with the flashbang device, they'd have an even stronger case. Apr 6, 2022 at 14:13
  • 3
    Is it possible that the law is different in some states? I.e. perhaps "castle law" makes booby trapping legal in some states? Apr 6, 2022 at 23:08
  • 5
    @JonathanReez: No! The castle doctrine does not protect property.
    – Joshua
    Apr 7, 2022 at 3:41
  • 2
    @Tristan The facts of the case would certainly be different if the owner was on the property, in that they could make the case that it was in self defense. The result of any court case will depend on the details.
    – User65535
    Apr 7, 2022 at 9:37
  • 3
    @User65535: Burglar alarm systems with loud sirens and flashing lights are not regarded as using "force" against would-be thieves, even though a thief who managed to get himself stuck right next to a siren might conceivably suffer hearing damage as a result.
    – supercat
    Apr 7, 2022 at 18:48

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .