A WITNESS who dialled the police non-emergency number as she watched louts vandalise a car in Newquay was kept on hold for 45 minutes.
The woman eventually gave up and the criminals escaped – but not before they had jacked the vehicle up and slashed its tyres in the Belmont Place car park.
Police have vowed to investigate the communication breakdown and urged people to dial 999 if a crime was in progress.
News of the missed opportunity, which happened at around 10pm on Saturday, August 18, emerged on Newquay police's Facebook page.
The woman blasted: "I would like to say the likelihood of me ever reporting a crime on your non-emergency line is pretty much slim to none now. I have just seen a group of drunken guys vandalise a car in a car park, putting it up on a jack and slashing the tyres, and I have been on hold for 45 minutes only to be cut off. That's the last time I try to do a good deed."
In response, Sergeant Reggie Butler apologised and assured the woman he would bring the matter to the attention of the communications department.
He said there had been "a few faults" reported with the 101 non-emergency number that were beyond the control of the town's police force.
He added: "In future if there is a crime happening and offenders are nearby don't hesitate to call 999. That is a job which it is for and it gives us a fighting chance of catching them.
"I know some people think it is not worth reporting stuff as they think we cannot do anything but it is important for several reasons. We might already have arrested someone or have evidence come to light later. Reported crime gives us bobbies on the ground an idea where we need to patrol to catch the baddies.
"Finally, if the apparent level of crime is low then those in charge reduce the numbers of police as they think they are not needed."
Other residents raised concerns that damage to vehicles in public car parks was on the rise. However, Sergeant Butler said there had been no recorded increase in such incidents.