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Brazen home invasion robberies stir Jupiter Farms residents into action
ICarry.orgJoeFranzese writes
— A trio of would-be robbers who shuffled up a front yard on Alexander Run with a pump-action shotgun last week had the misfortune of confronting an armed homeowner in the driveway. He stared them down until they ran off.

But if they had tried one of the neighbors instead in the rural Jupiter Farms enclave, they might not have had much better luck. In the house next door lives a Vietnam veteran with heavy firepower in his bedroom. At the two houses across the street, the homeowners were packing heat too.

It's no secret that much of an unincorporated swath of pine tree-studded acre lots, elegant mini-mansions, rugged ranch homes and rural individualism - is heavily armed. And after two brazen home-invasion robberies and one attempt earlier this month, some residents are buying new bullets and brushing up on Florida's self-defense laws.

"If they get inside my house they'll die," vowed Joe Melchiosse, a Vietnam vet and air-conditioning repair worker who lives next-door to the site of the attempted robbery. "At least they'll get hurt."

At a Jupiter Farms homeowners association meeting Thursday night, more than 400 packed in to listen to Palm Beach County Sheriff's officials describe their investigation into the robberies, in which masked gunmen stormed into occupied, unlocked homes and in one case stole several weapons.

Deputies advised residents to lock their doors, trim oversized shrubs and be vigilant. Many residents grilled deputies about the state's Castle Doctrine law, which declares people's right to use lethal force to defend themselves on their property.

Deputies told attendees that if someone comes into their house unwelcomed, it is presumed they mean them harm. But they warned that the decision to shoot and potentially kill someone is not an easy one.

"It is a life changing moment that will affect the rest of your life," one sheriff's official told the crowd.

But it was clear many were in no mood to negotiate with trespassers. The crowd burst into applause and cheers when a Jupiter Farms resident stood and advised the other residents to gun down intruders.

"We all have guns in our house," the man said. "If you have an armed intruder in your house, shoot him."

For decades, residents say Jupiter Farms has remained a safe, low-key place to live, a place where people raise horses, chickens and even cattle and until recent years even main roads weren't paved. Most people's idea of crime, as one resident put it, was teens taking a baseball bat to a mailbox.

To many, the recent spate of home invasions have served as one more reminder that the county is growing.

"I think Jupiter is just not as small as it used to be," said Trent Bongard, co-owner of Bongard Nursery in Jupiter Farms, where a theft of several plants last week was first crime at the nursery since it opened seven years ago.

But some residents are concerned about excessive vigilantism. What happens, they wonder, if someone innocent gets hurt?

"I don't want our own community, our own residents to hurt themselves," said Albert Rabadan, vice president of the Jupiter Farms Homeowners Association. "I just hope there's no tragedies."

Whether or not the armed robbers are caught, many say the days of leaving front doors and car doors open in Jupiter Farms may soon be a thing of the past.

And at one Jupiter Farms gun store, where the owner asked not to be named, sales this week were up.

Nice to see whole communities getting together to ensure the safety of themselves and their neighbors. This is Florida, but Illinois would be much safer if we all (states) had the same rights as each other.

Posted on Sunday, June 20, 2010 @ 14:52:02 CDT by ShaunKranish
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