Gage County Officials Caution Against Use of Deadly Force

BEATRICE – Gage County officials are cautioning residents not to take things into their own hands, if they are targeted in a theft.

Recently, Gage County Sheriff’s investigators and the county attorney met with a group of Barneston residents, upset about a rash of thefts in the village and surrounding area of southern Gage County.

In Nebraska, a person by law can defend oneself or their family with a weapon, if being directly threatened.  But, the situation is different when someone comes onto your property, simply stealing something.

Sheriff Millard “Gus” Gustafson says Nebraska is not a so-called “stand your ground” state.

:07                  “just can’t do that”

Gustafson says such use of a weapon can be a matter of personal liability for the property owner.  Gustafson says the meeting with Barneston-area residents recently was a productive one.

He says citizens are always encouraged to call law officers when there is suspicious activity, or a theft.

:21                  “belonged to”

Gustafson recommends that property owners place a mark or identifier of some kind, on their property.  That makes it easier to identify, recover and return to the rightful owner.   That also proves useful during prosecution of cases.

Gage County Attorney Roger Harris admits the process of solving such cases is often slow.  He said another resource for people who are victimized by a crime is to contact the Crime Victim’s Rights Coordinator in Gage County. Kerri McGrury is based at the Beatrice Police Department.

Harris talks about the law in Nebraska, when it comes to someone coming onto your property to steal.

:20                  “shouldn’t cap ‘em”

The county attorney said the last thing he wants is for a theft to turn into a murder case.

Gage County Supervisor Gary Lytle says a property owner using a weapon to try to wound a thief, also is misguided.

:36                  “leave it be”

Lytle says property can be replaced.

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