A pub owner sent out an SOS on social media after police failed to respond for more than an hour to reports of a burglar in an upstairs room.
Andrew Forster appealed for help on Facebook as he kept the intruder at bay in the staff quarters at The Wellington Inn, known as The Welly, on Glover’s Court, Preston.
His post brought offers of assistance – one from a friend “with a big dog” – and others turned up at the pub to watch the drama unfold.
Officers finally arrived to make an arrest 74 minutes after the first 999 call.
“I couldn’t believe it could take so long, especially as the intruder was still on the premises,” said Andrew.
“We called the police three times and each time we were told it wasn’t considered to be an emergency and they couldn’t send a patrol at that time.
I couldn’t believe it could take so long, especially as the intruder was still on the premises
“I didn’t know what else to do. I was holding the door shut to make sure they didn’t get away. So in desperation I put a message on Facebook and asked if anyone could offer us any help.
“People came down, a crowd gathered outside. My post got 250 likes and 150 comments. The public response was amazing.”
The intruder is believed to have got into the upstairs accommodation while staff were distracted during a busy Saturday afternoon at the Wellington.
Andrew, who is vice-chairman of the Preston Pub Watch scheme, discovered what had happened when he arrived at the pub, went upstairs and found someone in a staff room.
“We rang 999 and said we had an intruder,” he said. “We told the call handler that a burglary was in progress and we were holding the door shut so they couldn’t escape.
“We were told it wasn’t considered an emergency so they couldn’t send anyone out right away. That happend another twice before I decided enough was enough and I would put out an appeal for help on Facebook.
“I’m angry that the police didn’t think it serious enough to turn out for more than an hour. Yet hundreds responded on social media.”
Police said they had been called at 3.30pm and told an intruder was “laid down on the floor in an unaggressive manner.” An arrest was made at 4.44pm.
“We regret that we were unable to attend the incident sooner. However, unfortunately due to a busy period of demand and a number of on-going incidents across the area, there were no patrols available to attend at that time.
“We take reports of crimes in action very seriously and would always endeavour to attend these as soon as possible.”
The incident came in the same week Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commisioner Clive Grunshaw revealed that after a massive surge, emergency calls to the force had now reached a “critical” level.
Extra call staff were having to be recruited to cope with the extra demand, with the 999 service almost at breaking point. One person has since been charged with burglary at The Wellington.