A couple in California was left without solutions when police neglected an epidemic of theft in their neighborhood. The plan they improvised to get revenge on the thieves, though, has drawn greater legal consequences and criticism from people who think that they went too far.

Video recordings show that the couple had a camera trained on an unsecured bike outside their home. When the camera registered motion and it appeared that someone was trying to take the bike, the couple emerged with baseball bats and chased them into the street, sometimes seriously beating them. Police reports say this happened at least four times and none of the would-be thieves’ injuries were life-threatening, but a neighbor told local news that there were weeks when they heard the assaults happening almost every night.

A couple in Visalia, California posted these videos on Youtube and Facebook

Image credits: CBS47 KSEE24

Image credits: CBS47 KSEE24

Image credits: CBS47 KSEE24

Image credits: CBS47 KSEE24

Image credits: CBS47 KSEE24

Police say that the case is complicated by the fact that few victims are likely to come forward, as describing the circumstances of the assault would require confessing that they, themselves, were attempting a crime. This is what has commenters split on whether the couple should have taken matters into their own hands.

Image credits: CBS47 KSEE24

Image credits: CBS47 KSEE24

A California legal defense agency states that it is possible in California to make a citizen’s arrest in response to a misdemeanor like petty theft, but the process is not as easy as it sounds, and not doing it by the rules can invoke criminal liability. Making a citizen’s arrest legally, according to the agency, requires contacting police immediately and restraining the suspect without the use of excessive force until they arrive and can make an arrest, apparently not the couple’s intention.

Image credits: CBS47 KSEE24

A local news segment shows clips from the couple’s videos

The pair was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, and conspiracy

Image credits: CBS47 KSEE24

Image credits: CBS47 KSEE24

Some people think their use of violence was not justified

Some take the view that the thieves simply faced the consequences for deciding to steal. A baseball bat is a potentially deadly weapon, however. The case would be very different if they had simply hit someone wrong, and petty theft is not punishable by execution. Another neighbor told local news that while the community was initially supportive of the couple’s neighborhood watch, people on their street gradually started to feel unsettled by their motives and the blood left on the sidewalks after the attacks.

Others think the thieves had it coming