A gas station attendant said she had to call Cobourg police numerous times to get them to deal with a situation last week.
A person who appeared to be in distress or homeless left the store once without paying for items and returned several times over the course of the night.
It took three calls over the span of four hours for police to deal with the situation and take the person to the warming room at the Cobourg Police Service.
Amy Sowden has been working nights at gas kiosks in Cobourg for over two years. During that time she has met some amazing people, but has also witnessed some very strange events. She’s also been robbed twice. Once the suspect had a gun, and the other time another suspect said he had a weapon.
When Cobourg Police issued a press release about the latest incident, Sowden contacted Today’s Northumberland.
The release stated on March 10 police attended a local gas station upon report of a suspicious male on foot, entering the store and attempting to shoplift some grocery items.
“The male eventually left the store, leaving all items on the counter. Police located the male a short time later and issued him a Trespass to Property Act notice.”
After reading the press release online, Sowden said, “I was pretty ticked off.”
“I think the only thing they got right was, it was a gas station and he left the things on the counter.”
“They left out the fact I’d been calling all night. They left out it was multiple attempts. As far as I’m concerned they did no investigation what so ever.”
The police report stated the incident happened on March 10, but Sowden told Today’s Northumberland the incident started late March 9.
It was around 11:30 p.m. when a man who appeared homeless or in distress came into the store.
The man took a litre of milk and three other items and attempted to walk out of the store.
“I said, “excuse me sir you can’t leave without paying for that.”
“He told me to (expletive) and walked out the door. My customer and I looked at each other kind of dumbfounded.”
“I went to the door and yelled, “you need to get back here.”
With the help of the customer the man came back into the store.
The man only had five dollars so he reluctantly a number of items were returned.
Sowden said he once again went to the cooler and retrieved a smaller carton of milk, but once again it was explained that he didn’t have enough to purchase the milk.
The man eventually left the store with the items he was able to purchase.
But around 1 a.m. a regular customer came in and said he had an interaction with the person a short time before at a nearby business.
The customer pointed out the man was sitting nearby in a shelter close to both businesses.
A short time later, Sowden went to check on the pumps and noticed the man was still in the shelter and then started coming towards her. She immediately went back inside the gas station, making sure the door was locked.
At that time, Sowden made her first call to police (not emergency number because at the time she didn’t consider it an immediate threat) to attend the gas station.
While waiting for police, she noticed a vehicle arrive and a female got out and starting pumping gas.
The man started approaching the woman, but when it appeared he noticed a man inside the vehicle he once again left the area.
“I told all this to the dispatcher including what had happened in the earlier incident.”
“They said they would send an officer.”
Approximately an hour after the incident she looked and saw the man was still in the bus stop and, “that’s when I realized no police officer had come.”
“I called police back and said “this is Amy, the guy is still outside.”
Given she’s previously been robbed twice, panic was starting to set in.
The officer who arrived was very professional explaining he’d spoken to the man while he was heading to an impaired driving complaint shortly after 1 a.m.
(A 22-year-old was charged with impaired driving as a result)
The man told police he got off the train in Cobourg and was on his way to a hotel.
But Sowden explained to the officer the person had no money.
The officer told her he would take care of it and bring the man to the Cobourg Police station for the night as it has a warming room and shelter.
But at approximately 5 a.m. while a customer was filling up a vehicle, Sowden noticed a customer at the door and she buzzed the door open, immediately she realized it was the same person.
“He said, I need milk, and I said, “do you have any money?”
The man once again said no.
He walked over picked up a litre of milk picked up three sandwiches, two bottles of water and other items totalling approximately $26.
As he was doing this, Sowden called 9-1-1 this time and explained the issue to dispatch and about the previous incidents.
“Unfortunately the man is back and is now looting my store. I’m watching him do this.”
“She said, ok, I’ll have an officer come right away and she hung up on me.”
Sowden was shocked the dispatcher would hang up the phone aburptly.
“Now what do I do?”
“I didn’t know what he was going to do. I didn’t understand why 9-1-1 hung up on me?”
In all of the other previous incidents the dispatcher has stayed online until police arrive.
Not knowing what to do, and now realizing it was the wrong thing to do, she went to the door and blocked the man leaving and advised him that police were on their way.
“He dumped items on the counter and immediately started walking towards me.”
Quickly Sowden moved out of the way and the man left.
One officer arrived a short time later and spoke with Sowden stating another officer was detaining the man further up the street.
“The (the officer) never introduced himself. He was quite rude.”
“I was visibly upset, customers were in the store, I was on the phone with my boss because that is protocol and he said, “get off that phone.”
“I said, I’m talking to my boss” and he said, “I don’t care, I told you to get off that phone.”
“So that rattled me.”
“He was very condescending.”
It’s protocol after phoning police to immediately phone the supervisor to inform them of the incident.
“So I started telling him what had happened.
A witness who was at the gas station for the latest incident approached the officer to give information and the officer said he didn’t need to speak with him.
“I felt like he (police officer) was blaming me for being impulsive. If 911 had of stayed on the phone with me – I panicked, I didn’t know what to do.”
Finally police said they were going to take the man to the police station where they have a warming room.
They explained they couldn’t charge him because he didn’t leave the store with the items, but did issue him a trespass to property order.
There are seven businesses that deal with the public 24-hours in Cobourg and Sowden would like to see a more visible police presence – even a driving through the parking lot.
As there was a overnight warming station at the Police Station on King Street, “to me it didn’t seem like they made any attempt to bring him in until it was to late.”