View Poll Results: What would you do in my situation?
Ignore the car and go to sleep already! 62 42.47%
Call the police, this is their purpose. 57 39.04%
Go out and talk to the guy (what I ultimately did). 12 8.22%
Something else (please specify in a post). 15 10.27%
Voters: 146. You may not vote on this poll

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#1
Old 02-09-2011, 09:53 AM
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Suspicious vehicle in front of my house..What would you do?

I live in a pretty typical suburban neighborhood. Last night when I was begining to fall asleep, about 11:30PM, I heard car doors slamming. At first I think nothing of it, but then I think that those doors sounded awfully close and wondered if someone was getting in my truck that was parked in my driveway.

I got out of bed and looked out my window. There were no footprints in the freshly fallen snow in my driveway, but there was a older (early 2000's) volkswagen sedan with dark tinted windows parked right in front of my house (headlights off, engine off). Then I see the faint glow of an LCD screen illuminating the driver's face. I wait about 45 minutes and the person is still sitting in their car, still parked in front of my house, still playing with their phone or camera or whatever it was.

I finally turn on my porch light and driveway flood lights, and nothing changes. I then turn on my interior light (so he can see me) and I stare out my window at him hoping he'll see that he has aroused curiousity and move on.

There is no reason to pass thru my neighborhood, it is 'landlocked' (if you will) and out of the way for anyone to enter, though it is not gated. So i start wondering what the hell this guy is doing out there (drunk, high, peeping tom, scouting the neighborhood, or innocently finishing a phone/text convo, or argument)

At this point it is about 30 mins past midnight, and I decide I either need to:
A. go to bed and forget about the guy.
B. call the cops to come investigate, or
C. walk out and talk to the dude, figure out his intentions, or encourage him to leave.

If I do (A) I am worried that if he will do something to my or my neighbors family or property.
If I do (B) am I going to have to stay awake til the cops get there, for possibly a guy just trying to sleep off a drunk, or for just trying not to drive and text.
If I do (C) I don't know if the guy is crazy and armed or what.

After much deliberation, I finally put on my jeans and a jacket and walk out to the car. I peck on his window and he rolls it down. I asked if he needed some help or was lost. he just apologized and said he needed to be 'down there'. I told him no problem, that I was just nervous and wondering what he was doing sitting in front of the house. He again apologized and drove off..problem solved.

After the whole ordeal I decide I prolly should not have put myself in danger by walking out there.

Do you think I would be overly sensitive to call the cops in this situation? What would you have done?
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#2
Old 02-09-2011, 10:08 AM
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Apparently you live on a very quiet street. I would have assumed it was either a) kids looking for a quiet place to do ...... what their parents won't let them do or b) the police, either watching my house or doing what their boss won't let them do.

I would double check all the locks and wake up the dog, then go to bed. No way I would go out there unless I could use the excuse that I was walking the dog. Even then I wouldn't knock on the window unless they were on my property. No way I would call the police unless I see an actual crime going on. But that's just me.

Last edited by shiftless; 02-09-2011 at 10:09 AM.
#3
Old 02-09-2011, 10:12 AM
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Back when we had dogs, they were always large and generally were either obvious German Shepherd mixes or Chows. Anyway, we had people parking in front of our house or loitering there, and I admit that I walked those large dogs in the front yard. This usually solved the problem.

Nowadays, we have no dogs. So I'd call the cops and ask them to do a slow driveby, and talk to the person in the car if they could.
#4
Old 02-09-2011, 10:16 AM
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Maybe he was using somebody's unsecured wi-fi?
#5
Old 02-09-2011, 10:21 AM
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I said "something else" because the exact same thing happened at my house several months ago and I decided to neither completely ignore them, nor call the cops. I also live in a typical suburban neighborhood. At about 11:00 I saw a big, old, blue Chevy Caprice sitting right in front of my house. I could see a couple kids in the car, they never got out. But I waited downstairs, listening for the car door and checking out the window every few minutes. They sat there for about an hour. I thought about calling the police, and I probably would have if I became too tired to keep watch.
#6
Old 02-09-2011, 10:25 AM
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Since when did it become illegal to park on a public street? Buzz off cranky old person.
#7
Old 02-09-2011, 10:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blondebear View Post
Maybe he was using somebody's unsecured wi-fi?
Good call. Or trying to find good reception on his cell phone.
#8
Old 02-09-2011, 10:32 AM
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Release the hounds!
#9
Old 02-09-2011, 10:34 AM
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This happens weekly to me.

I live in average house in an average neighborhood with average break-ins and burglaries.
Had a drug-related double homicide down the street last year.

Even if I weren't an ex-cop, I still investigate everyone. Most everyone's excuse is they lose cell coverage as they go down the street, so they want to sit and chat on the phone.

Sorry, but no. Parking in the street is illegal, and I don't want your ricer crap parked in front of my house anyway.

I confront everyone so I can see the occupants, write down the tag, and let them know someone's watching. They all leave, which is what I wanted in the first place.

Recently, I heard a door close in the middle of the night, and looked out to see a van parked across the street at 2:30 in the morning. As I put the 3 million CP spotlight on them, they bolted, and I could see their plan: they had broken into my neighbor's truck, unloaded all his tools in the driveway, and were about to fire-brigade them into the side door & go. Luckily I stopped them before they got anything loaded.

If you don't do it, at least let the cops roust them. It's always good to let people know someone has any eye on them, no matter where they are.
#10
Old 02-09-2011, 10:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ducati View Post
This happens weekly to me.


Parking in the street is illegal, and I don't want your ricer crap parked in front of my house anyway.
Where are you that parking in the street is illegal?
#11
Old 02-09-2011, 10:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blondebear View Post
Maybe he was using somebody's unsecured wi-fi?
Good thinking, I had not thought of that!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Omar Little View Post
Since when did it become illegal to park on a public street? Buzz off cranky old person.
It's not illegal, but I'm starting to think I should have called the police anyway. The police could have made the decision whether they needed to do anything, instead of me putting myself at risk (by ignoring them, or by investigating further) to determine whether this person was a threat or just innocently checking emails.

Last edited by pyromyte; 02-09-2011 at 10:42 AM.
#12
Old 02-09-2011, 10:41 AM
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In my neighborhood it's best to call the police because nobody is just sitting there unless they're up to no good. A few weeks ago not far from here they busted a woman selling meth out of the trunk of her car with her kid right there in the back seat.

There are No Parking signs so it IS illegal to park there.
#13
Old 02-09-2011, 10:43 AM
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Is it not common to have "No Parking" signs where you guys live? We have had them on the last three streets where I lived in Memphis. They're also in front of all the school zones that I know of.
#14
Old 02-09-2011, 10:48 AM
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I missed the fact that he was actually in your driveway, so I answered Ignore. I'd change my answer to Go out and talk.

That's a little risky, but I don't think the police need to be involved for something most likely mundane.
#15
Old 02-09-2011, 10:54 AM
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Instead of actually confronting the occupant(s) you could always just take a pic of the plates with your camera phone.

In the situation you describe I think you had every right to be a little suspicious.
#16
Old 02-09-2011, 10:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blondebear View Post
Maybe he was using somebody's unsecured wi-fi?
I thought that he might be using a cell phone or GPS, but the wifi didn't occur to me.

I still think that it might be a good idea to ask the cops to do a driveby.
#17
Old 02-09-2011, 10:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rushgeekgirl View Post
Is it not common to have "No Parking" signs where you guys live? We have had them on the last three streets where I lived in Memphis. They're also in front of all the school zones that I know of.
It's not uncommon, but there are none in my neighborhood. a very few of my neighbors do park in the street, but I recognize them and they are generally not occupied while parked.
#18
Old 02-09-2011, 11:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blondebear View Post
Maybe he was using somebody's unsecured wi-fi?
And possibly hacking into someone's computer via their Wi-Fi.

Recently there was an episode of "Cops" in which officers were called on a report of a suspicious vehicle parked in a residential neighborhood. The guy was using a laptop and had a bunch of worksheets containing personal info from a number of people. He claimed he had the data based on prior product orders, but the cops checked and found that was bogus. He was arrested.

The cop who was interviewed said this was an increasingly common problem.
#19
Old 02-09-2011, 11:24 AM
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Wait, was the car in your driveway? If it is someone sitting in a car on a public street, it wouldn't occur to me to react to it at all.
#20
Old 02-09-2011, 11:32 AM
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If he was just on the street, I might just ignore it, and I might go out and write down his license so he could see what I was doing. If he were up to no good he'd be gone in a second.

In your driveway, however, I'd call the police, and then try to write the license plate in a a way he can't see you do it (and leave.) Unless you are in a very rural area, no one should be trespassing into your driveway. And I'd check that your wifi is secure.

It doesn't happen to me because there is a park a block away, and lots of people park there. I check them out when walking the dog after dark - she is very slow in this area, so I have lots of time without arousing suspicion. There are some people chatting. There are some people using their phones. There are maie-female pairs, perhaps just getting away from parents, perhaps stepping out on SOs. And there are a few situations which seem like hooker hook-ups. I don't write down licenses but I am clearly paying attention, and very few people have ever left. So it is probably innocent, but still, no one should park in anyone else's driveway.
#21
Old 02-09-2011, 11:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omar Little View Post
Since when did it become illegal to park on a public street? Buzz off cranky old person.
This. Unless he was actually in your driveway, and then I'm not sure.
#22
Old 02-09-2011, 11:37 AM
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There's no reason to bother a already overburdened Police dept with someone who is doing ntohing illegal.
#23
Old 02-09-2011, 11:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blondebear View Post
Maybe he was using somebody's unsecured wi-fi?
That was my thought. I'd still call it in. The only way for police to investigate suspicious activity is to call it in. I've stopped a number of break-ins in my neighborhood with a phone call.

With that said, it's hard to do at night. The police districts don't answer their phones at night. It all has to go through 911 and they really only want calls involving multiple gun-shot victims (not really but that's their attitude).
#24
Old 02-09-2011, 11:45 AM
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I'd never go out and speak to the person. Never. In the same situation I'd call the local police and ask them to check it out. I also live in a spot that is off the beaten path, near a woods, and I would be concerned about a number of things.
#25
Old 02-09-2011, 11:46 AM
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I'd call the non-emergency police number and ask them to drive by and see what was up when they had a free minute.
#26
Old 02-09-2011, 11:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madmonk28 View Post
Wait, was the car in your driveway? If it is someone sitting in a car on a public street, it wouldn't occur to me to react to it at all.
suspicious activity is not restricted to private property. I've had people call the police on me and I'm more than happy to answer to my activities. I'm thrilled my neighbors are watching the neighborhood.
#27
Old 02-09-2011, 11:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pyromyte View Post
If I do (A) I am worried that if he will do something to my or my neighbors family or property.
If I do (B) am I going to have to stay awake til the cops get there, for possibly a guy just trying to sleep off a drunk, or for just trying not to drive and text.
If I do (C) I don't know if the guy is crazy and armed or what.
[bolding mine]

I would have called the police, especially on the chance he might be sleeping off a drunk (well, he might be crazy or armed, too). It is illegal to be in control of a motor vehicle while in an impaired condition. You might have done the public a favor if he were actually impaired and the police arrested him for DUI before he had a chance to get back on the road. If he wasn't DUI, no harm, no foul.
#28
Old 02-09-2011, 12:05 PM
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I try to take a picture of the vehicle and the people when it's not the people that belong around here at minimum. A month ago I didn't for the first time in years and they stole something worth a few hundred thousand dollars. The cops do have a description of the vehicle used to steal the equipment and the name on it. I wish it hadn't been to cold to go out and snap a few photos at the time.

I've taken pictures of people that were stopping in the area before and just sitting there watching people. Once they saw I had taken pictures of them and their vehicle they never parked and watched the houses again.

Last edited by Harmonious Discord; 02-09-2011 at 12:08 PM.
#29
Old 02-09-2011, 12:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cochrane View Post
I would have called the police, especially on the chance he might be sleeping off a drunk (well, he might be crazy or armed, too). It is illegal to be in control of a motor vehicle while in an impaired condition. You might have done the public a favor if he were actually impaired and the police arrested him for DUI before he had a chance to get back on the road. If he wasn't DUI, no harm, no foul.
Yeah, this is another reason I was thought of (after the fact) that I should have called the police. After he drove off, i thought, great, he's probably drunk, and I just got him to start driving.

For the record it was not in my driveway, it was out on the street. I didn't see him do anything illegal. It just aroused my suspicion, because I don't normally see people do this in my neighborhood. It was a man by himself. Since I went and talked to him, I saw that he was about 35-45 years old. He seemed very nervous or excited, but to be fair I might have startled him by coming out of the house.

Next time I find myself in a similar situation I think i will just call the police. I don't think the police here would have minded to come check out a suspicious vehicle, even if it turned out to be nothing.

Good responses, everyone. Thanks!
#30
Old 02-09-2011, 12:58 PM
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I think I would have called the non-emergency number for the cops, especially since it had been so long that he'd been sitting there. I wouldn't feel safe approaching the person on my own, but I think it's a situation where someone needs to go up to them and ask what's up, and that's part of what the cops do.

I've done something similar before; I saw a man walking along the outside edge of an overpass that goes over a canal in the city I used to live in. There isn't a path/pedestrian bridge there, but I guess some people walk along it rather than go the long route around to get from one side of the canal to the other. I didn't know that, and it looked odd and rather dangerous, so when I got home a couple of minutes later I called the police and asked them to just check on the guy - I was actually worried he'd fall/jump! I had the annoying experience of being passed back and forth between the municipal police and the OPP because no one could quite figure out whose jurisdiction "the side of the overpass on the highway" was, until I finally pointed out that if they guy did fall, he'd probably done it by now and asked whose jurisdiction a body in the canal was? Whichever force I was talking to at the time told me they'd take care of it and hung up. I never heard anything more.

So in the end, I'd probably call the cops, but not expect much to come of it!
#31
Old 02-09-2011, 01:19 PM
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Too much paranoia here!
#32
Old 02-09-2011, 01:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shiftless View Post
Good call. Or trying to find good reception on his cell phone.
For 45 minutes?

I'd have called the cops.
#33
Old 02-09-2011, 01:25 PM
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Hmm, a guy spends at least 45 minutes in a car parked late at night in front of somebody else's house, seems "very nervous or excited" when the homeowner approaches him, gives a nonsensical explanation about how he needs to be "down there", and then takes off.

Does seem just a mite suspicious.

From a site dealing with wireless Internet security: "...a hacker searching for insecure wireless connections can get into your systems from a car parked on the street."

It wouldn't have had to be the OP's place being hacked either.
#34
Old 02-09-2011, 01:27 PM
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Probably nothing

If a suspicious car was parked in front of your house, I'd most assuredly do nothing.

However, if it were my house, the most I would do is get the license number and go back in the house. I'm secure in my house. I don't need to call the police or go outside. My perimeter is tight. If somebody did attempt to break in, I could respond with "force multipliers" as general Kelly called them during Desert Storm.
#35
Old 02-09-2011, 01:38 PM
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I would probably call the cops. However, the last time I called the police to come check out suspicious characters loitering around the property, they called me three hours later to tell me that they still hadn't gotten around to coming by and it would be another couple of hours before they could. I wanted to answer, "Never mind, I'm dead by now!"
#36
Old 02-09-2011, 01:47 PM
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My SOP in this situation is a little different to most of the other posters' due to the fact I live in a fairly rural area that is not known for the diligence of its Sheriff's department.

1. Observe suspicious vehicle in road. Wait a reasonable amount of time to ensure that it's not just some doofus who didn't realize that the dirt road I live on dead-ends in my yard. This is not at all uncommon at my house.

2. After a reasonable amount of time has passed, it's time to start flipping on lights in the house to make them aware someone is watching. I also make sure there's a gun where I can get to it, but that's strictly a personal preference.

3. If they still haven't left after all that (which I admit has never happened here, so the rest is pure conjecture) I would probably call one of my burly redneck guy friends to come up and check things out. At that point, I'm absolutely sure they would leave!
#37
Old 02-09-2011, 01:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Bundy View Post
If a suspicious car was parked in front of your house, I'd most assuredly do nothing.

However, if it were my house, the most I would do is get the license number and go back in the house. I'm secure in my house. I don't need to call the police or go outside. My perimeter is tight. If somebody did attempt to break in, I could respond with "force multipliers" as general Kelly called them during Desert Storm.
Putting aside the ability of a person to hijack your computer from a car, do you want people casing your neighborhood for people who are not home? Is your "perimeter" safe from having the phone lines cut when you're not home? Does vandalism not affect you?

We all have the ability to sense when something is amiss. Whether we act on it affects not just our own little patch of land but that of our neighbors. We can react to crime before or after it happens. I would hope that my neighbors watch suspicious activity and parking in front of someone's house for 45 minutes playing with a computer gadget is suspicious.
#38
Old 02-09-2011, 01:57 PM
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The subject of this post is misleading. I would say a car "in front" of a house is parked on the public street. But the OP says the car was parked in his driveway. That to me would be disturbing.
#39
Old 02-09-2011, 02:13 PM
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Quote:
he just apologized and said he needed to be 'down there'.
what the H does that mean?
#40
Old 02-09-2011, 02:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magiver View Post
Putting aside the ability of a person to hijack your computer from a car, do you want people casing your neighborhood for people who are not home? Is your "perimeter" safe from having the phone lines cut when you're not home? Does vandalism not affect you?

We all have the ability to sense when something is amiss. Whether we act on it affects not just our own little patch of land but that of our neighbors. We can react to crime before or after it happens. I would hope that my neighbors watch suspicious activity and parking in front of someone's house for 45 minutes playing with a computer gadget is suspicious.
I live out in the sticks on a road that if they wanted to pull off and hang out would be in my driveway ... but at least I am firewalled and have a pretty secure nonsense phrase as the password [I asked my 6 year old goddaughter for a really silly sentence.] Oh, and I have a cell phone, have for years. What I don't have is a landline...only thing they could cut would be electricity, and that would alert me to a home invasion so I could call 911 on headset and get extra magazines for my gun ready.

That being said, even if I was in town, I would call the cops. Sitting for an hour? That would be one hell of a texting/sexting session.

I am a firm believer in neighborhood watch type functions. You keep an eye on my house when I am gone, and Ill do the same for you.

Last edited by aruvqan; 02-09-2011 at 02:18 PM. Reason: spelling
#41
Old 02-09-2011, 04:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by control-z View Post
The subject of this post is misleading. I would say a car "in front" of a house is parked on the public street. But the OP says the car was parked in his driveway. That to me would be disturbing.
He didn't say the car was in his driveway. He said his own truck was in his driveway and he looked out because he was concerned someone might be trying to get into it. The suspicious vehicle was parked on the street,
#42
Old 02-09-2011, 04:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cochrane View Post
He didn't say the car was in his driveway. He said his own truck was in his driveway and he looked out because he was concerned someone might be trying to get into it. The suspicious vehicle was parked on the street,
I fail reading comprehension.
#43
Old 02-09-2011, 04:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pyromyte View Post
Do you think I would be overly sensitive to call the cops in this situation? What would you have done?
He was parked in front of your house, but not in your driveway or on your property, correct?

How is it anyone's business why he is sitting in his car? Aren't roads public?

On your property = your business.

Not on your property = mind your own business unless you see a duct-taped and bound passenger or something else clearly wrong.
#44
Old 02-09-2011, 04:10 PM
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Where I live, anyone parking anywhere on this street, unless there is a party going on, would attract considerable attention and not be ignored. Neighbors would write down the license number, call their buddies at the sheriff's office, and step up to politely confront the occupants, who would either be arrested or invited in for a drink, depending.

Which is why we have very few break-ins, and nearly 100% of those few are caught.

OTOH, in the summer, it's probably some teenagers rolling around on the nearby beach and that's fine as long as they don't set the beach on fire.
#45
Old 02-09-2011, 04:14 PM
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I would assume he is an al-Qaeda operative trying to get in contact with the other members of his sleeper cell. Obviously, the correct move is to contact the Department of Homeland Security. After all, in this post-9/11-world you can't be too careful.

Last edited by JimboJamesJimmersonIII,Esq.; 02-09-2011 at 04:15 PM. Reason: spelling, but probably missed some
#46
Old 02-09-2011, 04:18 PM
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Parking is allowed on my street, there are businesses down the street with people coming and going at various hours, and a school, church, and preschool all with various late-hours activities going on right across the street and around the corner. Unknown car parked in front of my house for extended periods, often with someone in it? That's normal.

Oh, and everyone's wifi is secured. I know, I've walked around with my iPhone checking.
#47
Old 02-09-2011, 04:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LurkerInNJ View Post
Not on your property = mind your own business unless you see a duct-taped and bound passenger or something else clearly wrong.
Interesting choice of UserName and post.
#48
Old 02-09-2011, 04:22 PM
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Streets are generally public Many public streets restrict parking, up to and including forbidding it on one or both sides. I am surprised that this is news to anyone.
#49
Old 02-09-2011, 04:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ducati View Post
This happens weekly to me.

I live in average house in an average neighborhood with average break-ins and burglaries.
Had a drug-related double homicide down the street last year.

Even if I weren't an ex-cop, I still investigate everyone. Most everyone's excuse is they lose cell coverage as they go down the street, so they want to sit and chat on the phone.

Sorry, but no. Parking in the street is illegal, and I don't want your ricer crap parked in front of my house anyway.

I confront everyone so I can see the occupants, write down the tag, and let them know someone's watching. They all leave, which is what I wanted in the first place.

Recently, I heard a door close in the middle of the night, and looked out to see a van parked across the street at 2:30 in the morning. As I put the 3 million CP spotlight on them, they bolted, and I could see their plan: they had broken into my neighbor's truck, unloaded all his tools in the driveway, and were about to fire-brigade them into the side door & go. Luckily I stopped them before they got anything loaded.

If you don't do it, at least let the cops roust them. It's always good to let people know someone has any eye on them, no matter where they are.
I would wager that you don't live in an "average" neighborhood.
#50
Old 02-09-2011, 04:47 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Northern CA
Posts: 9,154
A few weeks ago a little pickup appeared on the street near our house. I assumed it was someone visiting the neighbors, but it turned out to not be anyone nice, as I learned from a cop friend who had dealt with them. So my vote is, ask the police to do a drive-by.
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