JONESVILLE — Although not all police investigations result in charges and convictions, each inquiry uses resources from irreplaceable hours to materials consumed, which was the reason Jonesville Police Chief Dane Mastin spoke to the town council about a recent false robbery claim.
During the December Town Council meeting, Mastin said that the owner of Amerisian Restaurant on N.C. 67 had made a false claim about a robbery on the property.
“I kind of use that report as an opportunity to also educate the commissioners and people on what this job is about,” said Mastin, who explained more details of the investigation after the meeting.
Amerisian owner Everett Miller, who discontinued contact when questioned by The Tribune about the incident, claimed in his police report that someone broke into the back door of his restaurant, incapacitated him and stole money.
“Mr. Miller stated that he was in the kitchen area of the restaurant and heard something hit the back door,” said Mastin, “and then he can’t remember anything past that because he said a guy came up behind him and choked him until he passed out.
“Have you seen anybody choked out before?” asked Mastin, who noted the EMS found no evidence of injury. “It’s not instantaneous and with no struggle at all, the story began to unwind a little bit.”
Lack of a struggle was not the only concern as Mastin described the amount allegedly taken from a business owner who was vocal about financial troubles.
“[Miller] stated that they took a bank bag from the desk out of the office that contained $4,200 in cash,” said Mastin, “but he also went on to proceed to tell us that his rent was overdue and he had a certain amount of it for rent that morning [as well as] $600 for a catering job, and $500 normal cash flow.”
Upon further investigation, this amount seemed questionable.
“Information in our investigation revealed he was in some financial difficulty,” said Mastin. “He wasn’t going to be able to make it and the guy was coming to get his rent that morning or have him evicted and we believe that he staged [the alleged robbery].”
Although lying to the police is disturbing, it is the wasted resources that is the real problem.
“Even though it doesn’t show up in your crime stats, that’s effort and that’s resources that they have to expend,” said Mastin, who estimated $2,500 in taxpayer funds were used on the one call.
“I had a detective and two officers working on it. I worked on it myself. Yadkin County backed us up with it to help on it,” said Mastin, “because you know robbery’s a pretty serious deal especially involving an alleged personal injury.”
After about one month of the officers’ time as well as the materials used for fingerprinting and other resources spent on the case, it has been closed.
“Our officers closed the case believing that it did not occur,” said Mastin, who was disturbed by the waste.
“You’re talking about a limited amount of resources we have,” said Mastin, explaining the money wasted in the single false claim could have gone towards saving an officer’s life.
“What most people don’t understand is those bulletproof vests that these guys are required to wear have to be replaced about every two years. They have a shelf life on them,” said Mastin. “Most people don’t realize that’s just like any other clothing that you wear. It degrades therefore it loses its integrity to be able to stop a bullet.”
Although a grant will pay for half the cost of the current order of replacement vests, it is the taxpayers of Jonesville that will cover the remaining amount in spite of false calls.
“When you’ve got time and resources that you’ve got tied up, that’s money that could have went to something such as [bulletproof vests],” said Mastin. “I’m sure the taxpayers want their officers protected, [but] that ultimately comes out of the taxpayers’ pocket.”
Unfortunately this is the season of such waste, according to Mastin.
“This time of year and in the coming months right after Christmas, there’s always people that are reporting stuff that has been broken into or stolen, attempting to defraud insurance companies and stuff like that,” said Mastin. “It’s just a draw on the system.”
Another draw on the system that can pick up at this time of year is unnecessary 911 calls.
“They get them out there just because they’re lonely or whatever,” said Mastin, “and they tie up that emergency personnel. Anytime that you’re having to put out resources for bogus calls, they’re tying up resources. It comes with a price.”
It’s a price that might be paid by those really needing assistance as well as the taxpayer, he said.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.