Boss: I had to watch firm being raided but police couldn't come until morning

A businessman who called police when he saw a break-in at his firm on CCTV said he was left to watch it unfold after being told officers could not attend until the next day.

Boss: I had to watch firm being raided but police couldn't come until morning

Paul Smart watched the £20,000 theft take place in real time at his Brierley Hill photographic firm 'like an episode of Coronation Street'.

When he called 999 to report the theft he said he was first told to call the non-emergency number 101 and was then told police would not come out until the next morning.

CCTV captures one of the thieves at Doodah Creative
Paul Smart reported the raid

By the time officers did arrive, the crooks had long since escaped.

Their crime left the business, Doodah Creative, based in The Wallows Industrial Estate in Fens Pool Avenue, out of pocket to the tune of £20,000.

Mr Smart, who lives in Chaddesley Corbett, received a call about the burglary and watched it from a screen in his home, 12 miles away. The burglary lasted 50 minutes.

He said he initially got through to West Mercia Police when he dialled 999 around 2.30am on Friday. He was then told to call West Midlands Police on 101.

He said: "I called 999 and they answered the call and asked me where the emergency was. I apparently live in the West Mercia area. I gave them the address and they said 'ah, you need to call West Midlands Police on 101'.

"I called 101 and told them the same story and could they send the police. They said they did not have the manpower to do anything.

"I then watched the burglars leave, called 101, and watched them go again. Both times they said they could not come out. They gave me every excuse under the sun."

He added: "Watching it was absolutely awful. When you are watching someone take your property and your hard work away like that, while not being able to do anything, it was awful.

"It was so frustrating, we're still reeling from it now."

The raiders made off with computers, keyboards, trackpads and laptops from the commercial design and photographic studio.

Along with damage to the shutter over a window caused when they forced entry, the overall cost inflicted on the firm will be between £20,000 and £25,000.

Ransacked – damage caused inside the premises by raiders

Sales/account manager Steve Jones said: "We had to battle to get someone out.

"The police's attitude was in many ways worse than the criminals' attitude – that they weren't coming out to a commercial burglary.

Sales manager Steve Jones

"There were two intruders, with one stood on watch outside the building.

"Paul was watching this while he was on the phone to police and it was unfolding like an episode of Coronation Street right in front of him.

"He was notified by the alarm then immediately switched on the CCTV which is in high definition. The CCTV actually caught them stacking equipment up in the car park then carrying it through the gate.

"The police were so unhelpful – you get to the stage where you ask 'why bother?'"

Mr Jones said traders on the industrial estate had formed their own neighbourhood watch group after 'three or four' break-ins in recent months.

"We've lost more than £20,000 of computer equipment," Mr Jones said.

"We've now got a small neighbourhood watch-type group set up because things have got quite bad over the last couple of months.

"Everybody is reporting into that group if there are any crimes.

"It's just disappointing that the police didn't respond to Paul's call straight away."

West Midlands Police Chief Inspector Gill Davenport said: "Police are investigating a burglary on The Wallows Industrial Estate, Fens Pool, Brierley Hill.

"It happened in the early hours of last Friday morning.

"An investigation is under way and detectives are carrying out house to house inquiries, as well as looking at CCTV in the area.

"Second-hand retailers are also being visited so that they can be aware of the stolen property should anyone attempt to sell it.

"We have been made aware that the victim in this case is disappointed with the police response and we are discussing these issues with him to understand the concerns he has and to address them."

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