Burglars make off as police take 50 minutes to attend emergency call

Two burglars who a pub landlord confronted with a shotgun to protect his family made off after police took 50 minutes to respond to his emergency call.

By Nigel Bunyan
Published: 5:43PM GMT 07 Mar 2010

Simon Thomas, 45, initially pointed his shotgun at the raiders and later pursued them in his Land Rover.

By the time police reached The Anchor Inn at Barcombe, east Sussex, the men were nowhere to be seen.

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Burglars spared jail despite being photographed in actMr Thomas, whose children, Toby, 14, and Holly, 12, were asleep at the time of the raid, said: “If push came to shove I would have opened fire.

“In some ways I wish I had done – to stop them. Both my children were asleep in the house and protecting them was my priority.

“I don’t want people to think I’m some gun nut, but I was prepared to do pretty much whatever it would take. I would not hesitate to do it again to protect my children and my livelihood.”

Mr Thomas, an experienced hunter with a collection of licenced guns, recalled hearing the burglars moving about outside shortly before 2am on Saturday.

“I am a firearms man and have been for 25 years, so I went to my cabinet and got out a shotgun. I couldn’t believe what was happening.

“One of them was loading the bikes into his car and the other was breaking into the conservatory. I opened the bedroom window and shouted out `Do not move – I have got a loaded gun on you`.”

Mr Thomas conned the burglars into believing he had already dialled 999 and that the police were on their way.

When they saw his shotgun they begged for their lives and started unloading their haul of stolen mountain bikes from their car.

They claimed to have thought the premises were empty.

The raiders drove off into the night as Mr Thomas lowered his gun and finally went to summon police.

He said: “I called the police and they told me they didn’t have anyone available to come over right away but to put the gun away so I did.”

A few moments later he gave chase in his Land Rover but lost the pair as they drove through Barcombe.

Sussex Police confirmed that it took them 50 minutes to get officers to the scene and that there was no trace of the offenders when they arrived despite control room staff having graded the alert as one requiring an “immediate response”.

A police spokesman said: “The call was graded for immediate response. Officers arrived as soon as possible but were responding to other calls at the time.”

The thieves were still at large last night as police continued to investigate the attempted burglary.

Originally appeared: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/7393079/Burglars-make-off-as-police-take-50-minutes-to-attend-emergency-call.html