Harpenden home burgled after police ignore alarm

999 caller told officers would only investigate if there were signs of a break-in

A GOOD neighbour may have prevented a burglary in progress if his 999 call to the police had seen any response.

Tony Goodeve, 67, of Prospect Lane in Harpenden, reported a suspected break-in on August 20 when his neighbour’s house alarm went off at 3.15am.

Aware that his neighbours were holidaying and that there had been a burglary in the same area just a week before, the Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator called 999.

Armed with a torch and his mobile phone, Tony went outside and was asked by the call handler if he could see any signs of a break-in. Unable to see any, Tony explained that there may be other signs round the back of the house but he could not see without going into the garden and putting himself in danger.

He was told that nobody would be coming out unless he could see signs of a break-in.

The following morning, Tony discovered the house had been burgled.

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He said: “I was livid. I was calling the police to investigate this and if they had done, they may have apprehended the criminals who could be the same ones responsible for the spate of burglaries we’ve had around here lately.

“Going into the back garden on my own, in the dark, would not have been a wise decision. I considered it, even when I returned back to my home, but my wife was having none of it.”

Tony has over 20 years experience as a Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator and has previously worked extensively with police to help them capture and jail criminals committing crimes in the area.

He added: “What is it that we are supposed to do then if people hear an alarm going off or suspect there has been a break in? Should people just install their own CCTV or employ private security to guard their properties?”

Tony has written to the Chief Constable of Herts Police about the incident but, almost two weeks after writing, has yet to receive a response other than confirmation that his complaint had been received.

He has also contacted the Professional Standards Department for Herts Police to question the approach to 999 calls but is still awaiting a response.

Tony added that the police officer who did attend the crime scene the following morning was very helpful but that failed to make amends for the lack of emergency response the following evening.

His neighbours, the victims of the crime, are distressed but grateful to Tony for his efforts as investigations have revealed that his presence outside possibly disturbed the burglars.

A spokeswoman for Herts police said: “A complaint has been received about the police response. As with all complaints made by members of the public, this is currently being thoroughly investigated.

“As a result, we will not be able to make comment on this individual case until the investigation has been completed.”

She added that burglary was taken very serious by Herts police and it was one of their priority crimes. She explained that there had been 40 fewer incidents of dwelling burglaries in the district from April to August this year compared with the same period last year.