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Great-Grandpa, 80, Has What It Takes to Subdue Burglar

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Call him Supergramps, the Rambo grandpa.

Thieves and scoundrels would do well to stay clear of 80-year-old Jose Dangcil, who disarmed and captured a burglar he caught ransacking his Hollywood home.

The great-grandfather used a chokehold to disable the thief before flipping him to the floor and holding him down with a foot on his chest until police arrived.

It was nothing, says Dangcil, a 5-foot, 2-inch, 125-pound retired shipyard machinist.

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“It was outstanding. It was amazing,” says Los Angeles Police Officer Kevin Brawner, who hurried to North Wilton Place after neighbors reported a burglary in progress Tuesday night.

Dangcil and his wife, Josephine, discovered the burglary when they returned to their home about 9:40 p.m. and found belongings scattered around the living room. In a back hallway, they spied an intruder.

Moving quickly, Dangcil told his wife to run to a neighbor’s house and call police. Then he grabbed a short piece of metal pipe that he keeps behind the front door “for protection” and took off after the intruder.

“I told him to come out slowly,” Dangcil said. “I was holding the pipe, ready to use it. He came out. But he came at me, so I hit him.”

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The thief shook off the glancing blow to his head and began struggling with Dangcil for possession of the pipe. Dangcil held onto it firmly until “my muscles started going out . . . he was stronger than I was.”

Suddenly, Dangcil pushed the pipe toward the intruder and then let go, knocking him off balance. “When he turned, I grabbed him with my right arm around his neck. I told him to drop the pipe. He dropped it right there.”

Dangcil dragged the thief across the dining room and then flipped the gasping intruder to the floor. When the thief rolled over and tried to get up, Dangcil retrieved the pipe and put his foot on his chest. He held him there until police arrived several minutes later.

“I didn’t want to hurt the guy,” Dangcil said. “When the police came in, their guns were drawn. They said, ‘Put that pipe down!’ I told them, ‘I’m the homeowner--that’s the man you want.’ ”

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Police proclaimed Dangcil a hero. “It really took guts,” Brawner said.

Others agreed.

“He’s had heart trouble and a bleeding ulcer. He was so brave to fight to save our house,” said Josephine Dangcil, his wife of 52 years.

Said Dangcil’s 18-year-old grandson, Richard Hamilton of Hancock Park: “They said the thief was relieved when the police got there. I’m so proud of my grandfather.”

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Added Wilton Place neighbor Mae Babitz: “We’re all proud of him. People are getting tired of being robbed.”

Another neighbor, Enid Karl, said residents of the street feared for Dangcil’s safety when police emerged from the house and announced, “He’s down.”

“We couldn’t believe it when they said they were talking about the burglar, not about Jose,” Karl said.

The intruder, who faces burglary charges, told investigators he was 20 years old. But detectives identified him Thursday as a 5-foot, 4-inch, 130-pound 15-year-old. Because of his age, his name cannot be released, said police Lt. Bob Ruchhoft.

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Back on Wilton Place, an alarm company hired by Dangcil’s daughter, Linda Hamilton, was installing burglary detection equipment at the Spanish-style bungalow where the couple has lived since 1954.

Dangcil, meantime, stashed his trusty pipe back behind the front door. “I’d use it again. I’d do the same thing over, any time,” he said.

His wife had the last word, however.

“No, darling,” Josephine Dangcil said. “The next time you run away and call the police.”

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Times staff writer Nieson Himmel contributed to this story.


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