Agent who finds ‘burglar’ on house viewing is told police are dropping case despite arrest

An estate agent who apparently found a burglar in a property as a viewing was about to take place has been told that police have dropped the case.

Joss Hatcher-Davis, senior lettings negotiator at Strutt & Parker in Kensington, London, has recounted the incident in the London Standard’s ‘diary of an estate agent’ column.

The column is known for somewhat imaginatively inflating estate agents’ experiences, but Strutt & Parker last night confirmed to EYE that the incident really did happen, and only recently – and that police have dropped the investigation.

Hatcher-Davis said in his “diary” that he had gone to a viewing, only to find he could not access the property.

“My applicants arrive and I explain the situation. Fortunately, they are a lovely couple and have a son who’s my age, so they go off to get lunch while I keep trying to get in.

“I call the landlord, who only lives around the corner and is equally as lovely as the couple. He arrives within 15 minutes with his set of keys — and he can’t get in either…

“We walk around the outside of the house and realise there has been a break-in. The landlord is tall and easily opens the broken window. He suggests that I climb through as I am smaller, so in I go.

“Everything in the house worth taking has been completely boxed up, clearly by a burglar. The landlord calls his builder, who comes straight over to fix the window.

“With my applicants 15 minutes away, I try to make the house as presentable as possible. I go into the second reception room and the smallest cupboard underneath the TV is ajar.

“I try to close it but it won’t shut. That’s odd. I give it another push, it still won’t shut. I give it a real slam and suddenly, to my complete terror, an arm comes out of the cupboard.

“As any strapping young man would do, I scream and run for it.

“I find the builder and he watches the back of the house while I watch the front and call the police. They arrive and go into the house, open the cupboard, make an arrest and bring out the suspect — a female no more than 5ft tall.

“I suppose I will see her in court. I go back to the office to share my story, resigning myself to being the subject of my colleagues’ jokes for the foreseeable future.”

However, yesterday evening Strutt & Parker confirmed that while the alleged incident did appear to have happened – in late August – their negotiator is unlikely to have to give evidence in court.

The spokesperson told EYE: “Joss gave a statement to police following the incident but has now been officially informed that the case had been discontinued.

“We’ve heard of agents setting off burglar alarms but never one who found a burglar in situ.”

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  1. Will

    This is why the public have little trust in the police.

    1. Property Pundit

      Absolutely, this is disgraceful. Their excuse will go something along the lines of; ‘It’s the cuts, innit?’

  2. Woodentop

    It’s not the police it is the system …. The Crown Prosecution Service. A load of jumped up lawyers who are only intended in prosecuting if they can win a case or in their mind worth the effort for the conviction expected. Give back the authority to prosecute, to the police and they wouldn’t get such a bad name, for it is others that are making the decisions. Police are just as frustrated at being told they are wasting their time by pen pushers.

  3. LandlordsandLetting

    Maybe breaking and entering is one of the crimes that our ‘over-stretched’ police force have now decided not to investigate? Or maybe they were painting their nails at the time to highlight the growing problem of modern slavery? Evenin’ all.

  4. AnotherPlanet365

    Have some Festive Heart.

    A forgotten Christmas Elf left by Santa in a cupboard, carefully leaving boxed presents ahead of schedule?

    The CPS obviously recognised the situation and acted appropriately

    You can’t jail a Christmas Elf

    1. P-Daddy

      Especially one that is clearly so confused by dates and out doing her work in August. I know christmas starts earlier each year…..

  5. Thomas Flowers

    Something like this AnotherPlanet365?

    Extract from Bad Santa certificate 18


  6. gk1uk2001

    People really need to educate themselves before having a go at the police. It isn’t the police’s decision whether or not to prosecute, it’s the CPS. If the CPS say that they don’t feel there is a realistic chance of a conviction then the police will obviously drop the case and concentrate their massively limited resources on something else.

  7. Beano200062

    Could be all sorts of reasons. How about its a relative of the owner; perhaps a drug addict, or perhaps someone known to the owner. Perhaps the owner decided not to press charges after a relative of the mentally ill burglar offered to pay all costs? Perhaps the owner heard about the story and decided he didn’t want to press charges? Perhaps it was the previous tenant who had left items behind and the agent wasn’t aware. In the absence of any explanation there is no need to auto assume the police and justice system are at fault.

    All that said I have never found the police to be anything other than useless when it comes to break ins (both at my work and years ago at my home)!

  8. Chris Wood

    Informally resolved…?


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