Eventually, the dispatcher was able to make out tidbits of a conversation between two male voices.

“They were saying things like, ‘What if I went in there with a gun and what if we robbed the place?’ ” Danville Police Chief Tony Gray said. “Then the other one said something like, ‘What if they know it’s us? We go there all the time.’

“They mentioned wearing a ski mask, and then, at one point, my name was mentioned as well,” he added.

The longer the dispatcher listened, Gray said, the more it became clear that this wasn’t an ordinary conversation, but something potentially dire — a criminal plot in the making.