Graham Taylor of Westbourne Stores in Hessle, East Yorkshire, was pursuing two shoplifters when he spotted a patrol car. When he asked for assistance, the officer suggested he dial 999.
An astonished Graham rang the police, but later found the station had no knowledge of the incident and was told that officers may have missed the call as they were celebrating a colleague's retirement.
Graham has since lodged a complaint against Humberside Police. "Retail crime seems to be lower down on their list of priorities. They see shoplifting as petty theft, but it can easily escalate," he told C-Store.
"One of the youths involved in that incident was arrested later that day for attacking someone while drunk. If the police had acted when I asked that could have been avoided."
A spokeswoman from Humberside Police said the incident was being investigated.