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Same couple linked to string of ‘dine and dash’ cases at pubs and restaurants

PUBLISHED: 14:18 11 November 2020 | UPDATED: 14:35 11 November 2020

The Swan Inn was one of the pubs that fell victim to the alleged scam  Picture: RACHEL EDGE

The Swan Inn was one of the pubs that fell victim to the alleged scam Picture: RACHEL EDGE

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A Suffolk couple are alleged to have conned pubs and restaurants across the region out of thousands of pounds in unpaid bills.

Owners of The Swan Inn in Monks Eleigh, Stephen and Julie Penney, are concerned about the future of the pub industry. Picture: JULIE PENNEYOwners of The Swan Inn in Monks Eleigh, Stephen and Julie Penney, are concerned about the future of the pub industry. Picture: JULIE PENNEY

The couple are said to have targeted pubs, restaurants and inns across Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk in recent months.

At one bed and breakfast in mid Norfolk, it is alleged they left a bill of more than £1,000 unpaid, while pubs in Suffolk have reported losing hundreds of pounds for meals.

The pair, who are said to provide their genuine names on NHS track and trace forms, give businesses fake contact details – and are therefore difficult for staff to trace.

It is alleged the couple attempt to pay by card after eating, but it is always declined.

The Marquis in Layham is another eatery targeted by the couple  Picture: GOOGLE MAPSThe Marquis in Layham is another eatery targeted by the couple Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

They then allegedly claim to live nearby – promising to come back and hand over their payment in cash the following day, before never getting in touch again.

One publican who was victim to the eir crime, Julie Penney of the Swan Inn in Monks Eleigh, said the couple’s confidence and seemingly friendly nature helped make for the perfect crime.

Mrs Penney said the pair visited the pub before lockdown was re-introduced and have yet to make good on their promise to pay their £56 bill.

She said: “It is so worrying how many people they have done it to. They are being so blatant about it.

“I’ve found they are prolific, not just here – it feels like we’ve only just scratched the surface.

“We were so angry. To hit an industry when we are on our knees and struggling and do this.”

Other eateries the couple have targeted include the Waterfront Bistro in Ipswich, where the pair used the same trick to scam the restaurant out of £95 on September 2. Then on September 10, the Marquis of Cornwallis in Layham reported receiving false details and did not receive payment for a £197 meal.A Suffolk police spokesman said the constabulary is linking the incidents.

He said: “This type of behaviour of making off without payment for meals is simply unacceptable. This type of activity whatever the value can result in a criminal conviction, which can have a serious impact on someone’s life.”

Those with information which could aid police in their enquiries should contact them on 101, quoting references 37/63262/20, 37/63889/20 or 37/51882/20.


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