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Sentence:

That's strange. He was booked for two days then just after 11:00, he suddenly asks for his bill and leaves. He's got five hours start. Put out an alert for the car.

Context: police came to the place, but somehow suspect escapes from the place. So above words were spoken by commissioner to his partner.

  • Before checking Google Books I would have expected He's got a five-hour start. to be far more common than your "article-less" version, but apparently both occur about equally (not sure if there might be a US/UK usage split though). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica May 25 '17 at 13:23
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Here start most probably refers to head start.

The meaning of head start in Merriam-Webster Dictionary states

an advantage granted or achieved at the beginning of a race, a chase, or a competition

In your sentence, as the person escaped 5 hours before the police, he is 5 hours ahead of the police if they begin to chase him. In other words, he has an advantage of 5 hours.

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It means that the suspect is five hours ahead of the police. When police officers arrived at the place, the subject had already escaped five hours before.

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