Police apologised on Tuesday after claiming they were "too busy" to hunt a thief who fled a pub - 100 metres from their station.
Landlord Alan Jones dialled 999 to say £1,000 had been stolen from his bar in Newquay, Cornwall.
He gave operators the suspect's details and told them he was hiding out in a car park barely a few minutes walk from the town's cop shop.
But he was left stunned when an operator for Devon and Cornwall Police said they were "too busy" to investigate.
Officers eventually went to look for the suspect several hours later - but by then he had escaped.
Frustrated Mr Jones said: "I won't be calling them again in any future incidents - I'll deal with it myself completely."
Devon and Cornwall Police apologised, insisting their officers had not been "drinking tea and eating doughnuts".
Acting Chief Inspector Tony Joslin said: "They were actively engaged in protecting members of the public and dealing with emergency incidents.
"The publican in this case justifiably feels upset because he hasn't got the outcome he wanted and for that I apologise."