£6,000 of restaurant meals stolen in ‘dine and dash’ cases

Brendan Padfield, owner of the Unruly Pig at Bromeswell. Picture: SIMON PARKER

Brendan Padfield, owner of the Unruly Pig at Bromeswell. Picture: SIMON PARKER - Credit: Archant

Restaurateurs have spoken of the “demoralising” effect of so-called dine and dash crimes with one diner running off from an Ipswich restaurant leaving behind a £400 bill.

Thousands of pounds has been stolen in 'dine and dash' incidents in Suffolk in the last five years P

Thousands of pounds has been stolen in 'dine and dash' incidents in Suffolk in the last five years Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

New data requested under the Freedom of Information Act has shown that in the past five years £6,353.29 of food was taken from establishments across Suffolk.

The worst case was reported in September 2018 in Ipswich where offenders made off without paying for over £400 of food in one transaction. No-one has ever been charged with the robbery.

So far this year over £1,000 of food has been stolen without payment from Suffolk cafes and restaurants.

In the past few years, The Unruly Pig at Bromeswell has twice been the victim of dine and dash incidents.


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Owner Brendan Padfield said such thefts had a real impact on both the industry and staff at the restaurant.

"The immediate impact is obviously on the bottom line," said Mr Padfield.

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"The hospitality industry is not replete with high margins. On a quiet day a 'runner' could be the difference between profit and loss.

"The secondary impact is on morale. Our team works so hard to try to ensure that we deliver the best customer experience so when faced with a 'dine and dash', it is a real slap in the face for the team .

"It's utterly demoralising.

"Let's be clear here. This is theft - plain and simple. It's no different to stealing from someone's purse or to shoplifting.

"They are stealing food from our plates. It's no different to stealing food from a supermarket shelf.

"They are being blatantly dishonest and depriving us of the income that pays our team's wages."

Assistant Inspector Kirsty Graefe, from Suffolk police, said: "This type of behaviour of making off without payment for meals is simply unacceptable as it ultimately threatens the future of the business concerned.

"We work closely with business and our Design Out Crime Officers provide crime prevention advice and guidance to owners which we encourage them to take on board - we would urge all businesses to take whatever measures they practically can to prevent such criminality.

"Additionally, we work with other partners to address retail based crime. For example, the Ipswich Central Street Rangers are integral to the Business Improvement District and provide reassurance to the public and speak regularly with shops and businesses about how to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour.

"There is also an extensive CCTV camera network that is run by Ipswich Borough Council that is an effective resource for identifying suspects, witnesses, and vehicles used in crimes.

"Such offences will be dealt with by the powers available to us. This type of activity - whatever the value - can result in a criminal conviction, which can have a serious impact on someone's life."

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