Sometimes, you have to take matters into your own hands — and that’s exactly what a group of construction workers just did in North Carolina.
The blue-collar crew in Charlotte reportedly caught a man trying to break into a construction vehicle and steal tools.
In a form of street justice, the men taped the suspect to some nearby scaffolding until police arrived… and the aftermath was caught on video.
“I gotta do what I gotta do to hold you. You got no business in my truck,” one of the workers explained as the man was trussed up, according to WJZY, Fox 46 in Charlotte.
“I wasn’t breaking into it!” insisted the suspect. “I wasn’t in it! I was just checking it out.”
A bystander recorded the altercation, and told the local news what she saw.
“You don’t stumble into those things but there I was,” said Tina Quizon, who is also a freelance videographer for WJZY. “The leg is taped to the scaffolding, they put a rope around his waist.”
“I was like, nobody is going to believe this,” she said.
Officers arrived quickly to the scene, and the suspected thief did not appear to be harmed, just embarrassed and indignant.
After the video was posted on Facebook, it received over 8 million views. Many commenters tried to claim that detaining the suspect was somehow racist or cruel.
“This reminds me of slavery,” one commenter wrote. “They didn’t have to TORTURE him. They should be charged. Next time call the Police.”
The viewer was apparently ignoring that fact that the construction workers were clearly a mixed crew of blacks and Hispanics, and that the police arrived within minutes.
“Humiliating someone should be against the law too!” whined another commenter.
“Notice how most women who never served in this line of work or have any idea how expensive tools can be, are the ones defending this punk?” shot back another respondent.
“My job site got robbed in 2013, Took 8000 dollars worth of tools,” chimed in another Facebook user, who had no sympathy for the alleged would-be thief. “I’m guessing they got all of it in the bed of one truck. It doesn’t take many tools to start adding up to big bucks. It’s absolutely infuriating and that man deserves the humiliation.”
The fact is that a citizen’s arrest is completely legal under the right circumstances.
Like many states, North Carolina has a law — G.S. 15A-404(b) — which permits a citizen’s detention of criminal suspects.
“A private person may stop and detain another person when the private person has probable cause to believe that the other person has committed in his presence a (1) felony, (2) a breach of the peace, (3) a crime involving physical injury to another person, or (4) a crime involving theft or destruction of property,” explained Shea Denning, a professor of public law at the University of North Carolina, in a piece written for the UNC School of Government blog in 2014.
It seems likely that the alleged theft of valuable construction tools falls under that law.
There’s a difference between “playing cop” and stopping somebody who has been caught in the act.
It looks very likely that these construction workers just wanted to do their jobs, until a would-be thief tried to take their hard-earned living away from them.
Strapping a suspect to scaffolding until police arrive may unconventional, but it was probably exactly what needed to be done.