999 CALLER TOLD: YOU CATCH THE BURGLARS
Tony Goodeve went out in his pyjamas after he was woken by a burglar alarm
Wednesday September 14,2011
By Tom Morgan
A GOOD neighbour who called the police to report burglars ransacking a nearby house was told to investigate the incident for them.
Tony Goodeve, 67, had gone out in the street in his pyjamas, armed only with a torch, after he was woken by a burglar alarm in the early hours.
Knowing the owners of the house were on holiday, he dialled 999 on his mobile phone.
But a control room operator told the stunned pensioner that police needed “proof” of a break-in before responding.
Mr Goodeve replied it would be reckless for him to scout the property. But no officers attended and the next day it was discovered raiders had stolen the neighbour’s jewellery.
Mr Goodeve, a Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator in Harpenden, Herts, is “livid” with the force over the raid last month.
The father-of-four, a semi-retired financial adviser, said yesterday: “The police would only come out if I could see any signs of a break-in. They told me they needed proof.
The police would only come out if I could see any signs of a break-in. They told me they needed proof
“As an OAP I was not prepared to go round the back of a property in the dark and potentially disturb a burglary. They could have been armed. I don’t think that is a sensible option.
“I was told the police get hundreds of false call-outs after alarms go off, but that is just not good enough.
“You expect to have a 999 call responded to. I had an argument with the call handler. I explained I was not prepared to check the back of the property and was told in that case the police wouldn’t respond.
“There was someone in the house and they took my neighbour’s jewellery box. We could have had someone arrested. I was livid. The next day I went over and found the back window was broken. A very nice police officer came round but it was too late.”
Mr Goodeve has served with his local Neighbourhood Watch for 28 years. He said: “It has worked very well, but it relies on police response.”
Hertfordshire Police said it was investigating a complaint from Mr Goodeve and couldn’t comment.