Local business robbed; police ignore alarm over an outstanding $ - KMOV.com

Local business robbed; police ignore alarm over an outstanding $50 fine

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The crime was easy to see on surveillance video: a burglar riffling through the back office, stuffing cash into his pockets and then trying to open cash boxes by slamming them on the ground. (Credit: Retreat Gastropub) The crime was easy to see on surveillance video: a burglar riffling through the back office, stuffing cash into his pockets and then trying to open cash boxes by slamming them on the ground. (Credit: Retreat Gastropub)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

A burglar was caught on camera stealing from a popular Central West End restaurant.

The business' security system immediately called police but police didn't come. Why? Because the business owed a $50 fine to the city.

“It was definitely a shock,” said Travis Howard, owner of Retreat Gastropub.

The crime was easy to see on surveillance video: a burglar riffling through the back office, stuffing cash into his pockets and then trying to open cash boxes by slamming them on the ground.

Howard says the crime itself hurt them. It happened on Monday morning, just hours before a very busy day of eclipse excitement.

“Definitely frustrated, like how do we stop this from happening again? How do we stop this from happening to other people?” Howard said.

But Howard says precious time to catch the culprit was lost. Police wouldn't dispatch an officer when his security company called, all because Howard owed a $50 fine.

"You owe us $50 so we are not going to protect you, I don't know, it's very frustrating," Howard said.

Turns out, St. Louis, like other municipalities, penalizes businesses and homeowners for "false alarm" calls.

Howard had paid one fine close to a year ago, but says he had no idea he had a new fine for a false alarm on May 31.

Until he paid it, police wouldn't respond to any other burglar calls at his business.

“I would think that we are more than an account, or a permit, we are a business that, we want people to work here and be safe,” said Howard.

First there was the burglar, but Howard says he feels duped, too, by the city's policy.

"I don't think people are aware of this, I definitely was not aware of this," Howard said.  Police eventually did respond, after Howard called 9-1-1.

The city's policy has been in place since 2005. It's in place, officials told News 4, so that chronic false alarm calls do not put a strain on city police resources.

We're asking for more information on other city's policies on false alarm calls and exactly how much money is collected in fines from false alarms. St. Louis officials told News 4 that last year, they made close to $715,000 in false alarm fines. 

We'll keep digging and let you know what we find out.

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