Hays Co. dispatch holds 911 call for 20 minutes before alerting police

Security camera video catches one of the men who stole thousands of dollars' worth of equipment from hardware store. (Photo Courtesy A-Line Outdoor Power Equipment)
Security camera video catches one of the men who stole thousands of dollars' worth of equipment from hardware store. (Photo Courtesy A-Line Outdoor Power Equipment)

BUDA, Texas (KXAN) – The Hays County Sheriff’s Department is investigating how dispatchers sat on a 911 call for 20 minutes before contacting a local police department to let them know there was a burglary in progress.

Last Friday, two men broke into A-Line Outdoor Power Equipment and made off with thousands of dollars in merchandise.

“This whole display here when I showed up Friday was empty, I think there was one chainsaw and two blowers left, so yeah I would say it was 99 percent empty,” said A-Line Outdoor Power Equipment Director Brooks Gregory.

He says the store has been open for seven years along Interstate 35 in Buda, near Robert Light Boulevard, and has been burglarized five different times. However, on Friday Gregory says he noticed something different when he arrived to his store.

“When I got on the scene, the police weren’t here yet, so I called 911 again just to make sure they got a call,” said Gregory.

He says it took him 15 minutes to arrive at his store after being alerted by the security company, with police arriving shortly after.

According to the Buda Police Department, the security company notified the Hays County Sheriff’s Department of the break-in at 4:40 a.m. Twenty minutes later dispatch finally let Buda police officers know there was a problem.

“It’s unacceptable,” Buda Police Chief Bo Kidd said. “We have got to be more responsive than that. Somehow the ball got dropped and that information did not get passed along to the officers on the street.”

With a small police force, Kidd says dispatchers will normally contact officers even if they are tied up on other calls to let them know of calls pending. At that point, officers will determine which calls can wait and which ones need immediate attention.

“However, I would expect that they would be advised of a call pending and in this case they were not, so they were unaware of the alarm call until about 5 a.m.,” said Kidd.

KXAN spoke with Hays County Sherriff’s Department Captain Mike Davenport who admits dispatch made a mistake and is investigating to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“This is an uncommon occurrence at best, you don’t normally hear that we are holding a call for 20 minutes,” said Davenport.

Davenport says there are a number of possibilities that could have played a part in the delay. He says on Friday the department was short-staffed and many were absent due to mandatory training to obtain licenses, he also adds that all sheriff deputies were busy working a robbery investigation.

“We are going to take measures to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” said Davenport.

Once police were finally dispatched, Chief Kidd says his police officers were at the scene in less than four minutes.

“Unfortunately we weren’t there fast enough to catch them in the act, but this problem will be fixed, it doesn’t sit well with me to say the least,” said Kidd.

In security camera video, you can see the two thieves grabbing chainsaws off the shelves and throwing them in the back of a pickup before leaving the store. In all, the two spent six minutes gathering $17,000 in merchandise.

“I’m hoping there’s not a 20 minute delay on every call that goes out because there’s a major disconnect somewhere. If we dispatched at a better time, then these guys probably could have been caught and in jail right now,” said Gregory.

The truck driven by the suspects can be seen in security video as having a dent near the rear wheel of the driver’s side, the thieves also broke the tailgate just before driving off of the parking lot.

If you recognize the suspects in the video, you can call the Buda Police Department at 512-393-7896. Gregory says A-Line is offering a reward after an arrest is made for the person who helps identify these men.

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