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Old March 15th, 2019, 12:32 PM #1
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Need help with a trespassing situation

Hello fellow Marylanders,

I have an issue with trespassing which I hope you can weigh in on. There is a private road that connects Uniontown Rd in Westminster to several houses. The houses are well away from the road. Unfortunately, many local residents also use this as a short-cut between Uniontown Rd and the Safeway in College Square.

I have No Trepassing signs that are summarily ignored constantly. When confronted I get all manner of hostility, from verbal to physical assault. The Westminster police have been called several times and are aware of the issue.

I describe the situation in this video (which was made for a specific pipe-smoking audience on Youtube). Within I show the layout of the road and describe the problem:
https://youtu.be/WLrB1-MJSLU?t=294

While doing research online I came upon an opinion piece in the Carroll County Times called
Legal Matters: Signs, verbal warnings sufficient notice to trespassers
https://www.carrollcountytimes.com/l...717-story.html

I wrote an email to Ms. Donna Engle, the author and a lawyer, asking what I could do. In it I repeat what I wrote above, and ask:

The police, city hall, and the Dept of Planning and Taxation all state that this is a private road. How can I stop these people from trespassing? By the time police arrive trespassers are long gone. Can I physically PREVENT people from walking on this road, forcing them to turn around?


Her response:

Hi, Mr. Mittelstedt,
The road is posted as private,so your trespassers could not argue that they had no idea they were trespassing. Trespass is a criminal offense, so calling the police is a logical step. If no other landowner has use of the road under your permission, and you own the road, you may have the right to block the road just as you can fence your yard or garden--unless it has been used by the public for more than 20 years, in which case it may have become a public right-of-way. If you could obtain names, it could be helpful for you to contact the police to find the individuals and explain to them that a witness (you) reports they are committing a misdemeanor and could wind up in criminal court for their actions.
Hope that helps
Donna Engle


Not a ton of help.

Yesterday was the final straw for me. I witnessed a male and female walking on my private road, and then hiding behind the garage of an elderly neighbor. They were going through their backpacks and exchanging items. I went out to confront them and they ran. Alarm bells were going off in my head so I got in my car and pursued them to the WV trailhead which was several hundred yards down Uniontown Rd. I wanted a picture of them so I could report them if needed.

When I confronted them, the male pulled a knife on me and put it into my face. When I didn't back down they ran again down the trail. I called the police and stayed on the phone with 911 following them until police apprehended them and they were arrested. It turns out that they had also shoplifted at Safeway so police were already looking for them.

So with hat in hand I come to you knowledgeable people with the following questions:

How far can I go to push people off my property? Can I literally block the road and not allow them to go any further, demanding they turn around?

Can I open carry on this private road that is my property in the city of Westminster?

If I am again faced with a knife in my face am I allowed to defend myself? Or based on the Castle Doctine am I required to retreat to my house?

Any opinions would be greatly appreciated!
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Old March 15th, 2019, 12:46 PM #2
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Private property you can open/conceal carry. You'll get varying opinions on where or not bringing a firearm to the situation (confronting a trespasser) is a good idea in terms "how it looks." You have a duty to retreat outside of your home, even on your property, even if threatened with deadly force, if there's a known manner of retreat available to you.


A reasonable person (especially a Marylander who thinks firearms are scary) might view you "chasing down a kid" who was on your property differently than if you were just raking leaves with your pistol on your hip, when suddenly you were confronted by a knife-wielding trespasser, and in fear of your life, took a shot.

I don't envy your situation. Criminals are the problem, not people trying to mind their own business in their own property. Good luck.
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Old March 15th, 2019, 12:54 PM #3
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Ok, I watched your video. The "Private Drive" sign that is on your fence looks, to me, like it's possibly referring to the driveway where your cars are parked and people may see the main driveway as a public road. It's going to be difficult keeping people out of there.
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Old March 15th, 2019, 12:56 PM #4
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How does that work when you share the driveway, that may be the tough part about open carry on a shared driveway.

Instead of having the sign on the fence near the road, you could put it on a post sticking up right at the edge of the driveway near the road, I know it may seem like its the same, but being on a post instead of your fence may make it look more official. Heck, 2 posts/signs, once on left and one on right.

There was a few houses near where I used to live and when the traffic kept using it as a shortcut, they blocked it off with 2x4s on saw horses.
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Old March 15th, 2019, 12:58 PM #5
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Who owns the road? You state "my property." Is it clearly on your deed? It has to be on someone's deed.
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Old March 15th, 2019, 12:59 PM #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BugLaden View Post
Hello fellow Marylanders,

I have an issue with trespassing which I hope you can weigh in on. There is a private road that connects Uniontown Rd in Westminster to several houses. The houses are well away from the road. Unfortunately, many local residents also use this as a short-cut between Uniontown Rd and the Safeway in College Square.

I have No Trepassing signs that are summarily ignored constantly. When confronted I get all manner of hostility, from verbal to physical assault. The Westminster police have been called several times and are aware of the issue.

I describe the situation in this video (which was made for a specific pipe-smoking audience on Youtube). Within I show the layout of the road and describe the problem:
https://youtu.be/WLrB1-MJSLU?t=294

While doing research online I came upon an opinion piece in the Carroll County Times called
Legal Matters: Signs, verbal warnings sufficient notice to trespassers
https://www.carrollcountytimes.com/l...717-story.html

I wrote an email to Ms. Donna Engle, the author and a lawyer, asking what I could do. In it I repeat what I wrote above, and ask:

The police, city hall, and the Dept of Planning and Taxation all state that this is a private road. How can I stop these people from trespassing? By the time police arrive trespassers are long gone. Can I physically PREVENT people from walking on this road, forcing them to turn around?


Her response:

Hi, Mr. Mittelstedt,
The road is posted as private,so your trespassers could not argue that they had no idea they were trespassing. Trespass is a criminal offense, so calling the police is a logical step. If no other landowner has use of the road under your permission, and you own the road, you may have the right to block the road just as you can fence your yard or garden--unless it has been used by the public for more than 20 years, in which case it may have become a public right-of-way. If you could obtain names, it could be helpful for you to contact the police to find the individuals and explain to them that a witness (you) reports they are committing a misdemeanor and could wind up in criminal court for their actions.
Hope that helps
Donna Engle


Not a ton of help.

Yesterday was the final straw for me. I witnessed a male and female walking on my private road, and then hiding behind the garage of an elderly neighbor. They were going through their backpacks and exchanging items. I went out to confront them and they ran. Alarm bells were going off in my head so I got in my car and pursued them to the WV trailhead which was several hundred yards down Uniontown Rd. I wanted a picture of them so I could report them if needed.

When I confronted them, the male pulled a knife on me and put it into my face. When I didn't back down they ran again down the trail. I called the police and stayed on the phone with 911 following them until police apprehended them and they were arrested. It turns out that they had also shoplifted at Safeway so police were already looking for them.

So with hat in hand I come to you knowledgeable people with the following questions:

How far can I go to push people off my property? Can I literally block the road and not allow them to go any further, demanding they turn around?

Can I open carry on this private road that is my property in the city of Westminster?

If I am again faced with a knife in my face am I allowed to defend myself? Or based on the Castle Doctine am I required to retreat to my house?

Any opinions would be greatly appreciated!
Sir, I'm not a lawyer. But what if you put in a gate like we had back in Texas. The gate was design so that it had multiple locks on it. Removing any one lock allowed the gate to open.
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Old March 15th, 2019, 12:59 PM #7
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Mine field signs. trail cam - and notice there of.
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Old March 15th, 2019, 01:01 PM #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TexDefender View Post
Sir, I'm not a lawyer. But what if you put in a gate like we had back in Texas. The gate was design so that it had multiple locks on it. Removing any one lock allowed the gate to open.
That would probably work great but I'll be damned if I would want to stop and lock/unlock a gate everytime I left the house or came home
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Old March 15th, 2019, 01:04 PM #9
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Is that a new fence around your house? Do you know where your property line is? The state website shows the driveway in front of your house all the way to your neighbors driveway to be on public property. https://gisapps.dnr.state.md.us/MERLIN/index.html
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Old March 15th, 2019, 01:37 PM #10
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Would your neighbor be open to building a fence to block the path?
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