Theft victims: Police kept us on hold for hours

Posted at 6:58 PM, Dec 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-15 21:58:33-05

What was supposed to be a quick call to police has a local family turning to 10News to get answers for why they were on hold for two hours

We reported the Paradise Hills package theft yesterday.

Since then, we went to San Diego police to get answers about what went wrong, and how they're going to fix it.

“We are not the kind of people who cry wolf,” said Joe Schmitt, whose packages were stolen.

He and his wife Florence may have felt that way these last two days.

On Sunday, a thief stole Christmas gifts from their doorstep, minutes after they were delivered.

They caught the crime on camera, and then tried turning to San Diego police.

“I feel if my system gives the police information that makes it easier to do their job, that they ought to be able to do something with it,” Joe Schmitt said.

Armed with the surveillance video, the Schmitts called 911, but what they couldn't figure out was why it took so long for an officer to come to their door.

A 911 dispatcher told Florence to call the non-emergency line.

She did, but was on hold for two hours before giving up.

On Monday, she called again.

After 20 minutes, another dispatcher told her to call the U.S. Postal Service.

That was incorrect.

”Packages stolen off a front porch is something we certainly want to investigate,” said San Diego Police spokesman Scott Wahl.

10News asked the questions, and now police are on the case.

Wahl called the two-hour non-emergency wait time unacceptable. The average should be three minutes.

But several dispatchers called in sick on Sunday, when Florence and 450 others called in. Lt. Wahl declined to talk about dispatcher staffing levels, or the protocol for sick calls.

”Response times, call wait times, are something we are constantly looking at to try to find ways to get better,” Wahl said.

One of which is hiring more dispatchers. That's easier said than done.

Applicants have to go through a lengthy background check.

As for the Schmitts, they just hope the thief is caught before he swipes more Christmas gifts.

”Getting him stopped, we feel, will help somebody else,” he said.