When thieves posed as utility workers and went to the home of an elderly couple, they would soon discover that they messed with the wrong people. They learned the hard way when they went toe to toe with the husband, who was one angry Marine armed with an “Irish surprise.”
Initially, Dan and Barbara Donovan weren’t suspicious when a man knocked on their door, saying he was from the electric company and needed access to the inside of their suburban Chicago home. The man had a red vest and tools, so it appeared to be an official visit. Unfortunately, they would soon realize that wasn’t the case — but not until after they had already let him inside their home.
According to ABC News, the couple had just sat down to dinner when the man, posing as a utility worker, came to their home, asking to check their fuse box due to a recent fire in the area. “We had received a letter from the electric company the day before,” Barbara explained. “So, when he said he was with the electric company, we let him in.”
The couple took the man to their electric circuit panel in the basement, and everything seemed normal at first. However, their suspicions began to rise when the man kept asking them to come closer so he could show them the panel. Barbara then heard footsteps above them. “I yelled, ‘Danny! Somebody’s in our bedroom!’” Barbara recalled.
The “utility worker” turned out to be a home invader and was there to distract the Donovans while his cohorts raided their valuables. The couple ran up the stairs quickly, followed by the burglar who was masquerading as an electric company worker. Dan and Barbara found two other men rummaging through their home. The thieves had gained entry when the couple left the door unlocked and were distracted in the basement. Dan knew he had to defend his home and his wife.
From his military training, Dan learned to be resourceful. The elderly Marine quickly grabbed a family heirloom, his grandpa’s Irish shillelagh – a walking stick – and began swinging. The brave veteran said the Marines taught him to use whatever resource was available to defend his position. “I was trying to find some type of persuasive weapon. So, I picked up the Irish shillelagh, and that turned out to be the equalizer because I managed to chase them out of the house,” Dan told KIRO7 News.
One of the men was carrying what Dan recognized as a pillowcase from the bedroom, which had some items inside. “I told them to get the hell out of my house. I got angry,” Dan said. “I started swinging the stick, plus they had my flannel pillowcase. That’s mine,” he said. “I hit him in the head at which time we all moved outside and I’m swinging at them and I’m barefooted,” the elderly Marine added. “I think I hit myself more than I hit him, which you don’t feel at the time.”
Moments later, Dan Donovan smashed his shillelagh on the car hood and windshield. “I told the police that I think I got a few good licks on them,” he recalled.
The shillelagh belonged to Dan’s grandfather and dates back to the 1800s. Dan admitted there was no designated place for the heirloom in his home, but it was just what he needed to successfully chase off some burglars. “Grandpa was looking over us so everything turned out OK, when you think about what could have happened,” Barbara declared.
Even rocker Gene Simmons took notice of the brave Marine’s exploits after Dan Donovan chased the crooks away. “JUSTICE! Semper Fi, Sir…Former Marine, 81, beats thieves with Irish walking stick near Chicago,” Simmons posted to his one million fans on social media.
“Hopefully, they got nothing more than a headache, and hopefully, they pursue another occupation,” Dan told the media. Barbara considers her husband a hero, but Dan gives all the credit to Barbara. “If it wasn’t for her, I would have been helping the guy in the car and waving goodbye to him,” he admitted. Dan is a great example of why the motto of the Marines is “Semper Fidelis,” which is Latin for “Always Faithful.”