N4T Investigators: Not-so-rapid Response - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Not-so-rapid Response

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TUCSON – A local business manager is upset about the Tucson Police Department’s response to a theft.

A person in a white van stole a trailer from Ram Plumbing near Silverbell and Grant roads on Feb. 3.

Ryan Holifield manages the business. He said the crime was reported to police on a Saturday morning.

“They said they had no one available, and they didn't come until that Monday,” Holifield said.

The theft was caught on surveillance video, which appears to show a man throwing a lock and possibly leaving fingerprints. The video, lock and license plate of the trailer were given to police on that Monday.

An employee noticed the van pulling the trailer near Glenn Street and Alvernon Way on Wednesday of that week. He called 911 as he followed the driver to several locations near Fort Lowell Road.

“They kept telling him that they were going to send an officer and never did,” Holifield said.

The employee took a picture of the back of the van, and it clearly identified the license plate. The employee thinks the driver noticed he was being followed and sped away.

“We've handed them everything on a silver platter,” Holifield said. “We've got fingerprints. We've had the van. We had video surveillance. Everything.”

Lt. Jim Wakefield said officers in the area were working 42 calls while the employee was following the van.

"It’s approximately 4:30 in the afternoon,” Wakefield said. “We're heavily inundated with traffic accidents and other types of events that often drain our finite resources.”

He said officers care about those quality-of-life crimes, and they would like to return stolen property immediately. The department had to prioritize its responses to 200,000 emergency calls last year.

“We do a pretty good job of triaging the events,” Wakefield said.

The van does not appear to be stolen, and the license plate is a workable lead, according to Wakefield.

The trailer was not reported recovered as of Friday morning. Officers checked on the address associated with the license plate on Friday afternoon. The van and trailer were not there at the time, according to Wakefield.

Sgt. Jobe Dickinson is a board member of the Tucson Police Officers Association. He said complaints like Holifield’s are common.

“This is going on day-in, day-out,” Dickinson said.

He said that type of call would have been immediately investigated 10 years ago.

“Felonies are serious,” Dickinson said. “However, this is a property crime, and there's lots of violent crimes.”

He said the department is short-staffed because of pay.

“The officers are embarrassed to not be able to help the community like we should be able to,” Dickinson said.

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