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'Dine and dashers' flee pub without paying £140 bill

CCTV footage showed six women leaving the Wheelbarrow Castle pub in Worcester.

The women are accused of leaving the pub without paying. (SWNS)
The women are accused of leaving the pub without paying. (SWNS)

A pub has posted video footage purportedly showing six women brazenly walking out without paying a £140 bill.

Footage showed the women leaving the Wheelbarrow Castle pub in Worcester on Saturday, 23 March after enjoying food and alcohol. The suspected ‘dine and dash’ customers were seen filing past the bar with one pushing a pram at around 3pm.

After spending several hours at the pub, the women then fled in a dark blue 4x4 and a dark-coloured VW Golf. Landlady Sarah Hutchins said staff tried to chase the women who swore and laughed as they drove away.

She said: "It's very rare that someone leaves without paying. It has happened a couple of times before where people have come back and paid, probably out of shame.

"They don't seem to give a monkeys. When my staff went to clear their table it was absolutely filthy and they'd even left a dirty nappy on the windowsill.”

The pub said: “These delightful ladies were part of a group of six women that decided to leave without paying their £140 bill!
The pub said: “These delightful ladies were part of a group of six women that decided to leave without paying their £140 bill!" (SWNS

Hutchins has now posted images of the women on the pub’s Facebook hoping they can be traced.

The post read: “These delightful ladies were part of a group of six women that decided to leave without paying their £140 bill!

“They shot off in a 73 plate car, nice of them to stick their fingers up to our staff who tried to chase after them as they sped off!

It added: “You people are why pubs are closing every day. It’s a hard enough job as it is without scumbags thinking it’s ok to fill their faces with food and drink and then do a runner.”

Hutchins said she had been forced to turn detective after police refused to investigate the crime.

The pub said the women swore at them as they left in their car. (SWNS)
The pub said the women swore at them as they left in their car. (SWNS)
The unpaid bill. (SWNS)
The unpaid bill. (SWNS)

Hutchins claims that since the Facebook post, she has been given the name and address of one of the women.

She added: “I just want these people to know that I will not stand by and do nothing. What gives anyone the right to get away without paying and then swear and laugh at my staff?

West Mercia Police said the crime was investigated as far as reasonably possible, but no suspect was identified. They added the case has now been closed, however should further information become available this would be investigated.

A UK Hospitality spokesperson said: “Any customers walking out of restaurants without paying is simply unacceptable and shows a complete lack of respect towards businesses and teams that work incredibly hard to provide guests with good service, good food and good experiences.

“We would encourage any operators who experience walkouts to report it to the police.”

Back view of a metropolitan police officer.
Police have released advice to combat dine and dash. (Getty)

Rise in 'dine and dash'?

The government has recently come under pressure to support retailers amid a rise in theft thought to be linked partially to the cost of living crisis.

In October, it was revealed that shoplifting offences recorded by police in England and Wales had risen by 25% in the previous year - with supermarkets particularly hard it. Hampshire police and crime commissioner Donna Jones told the MailOnline that "dine and dashing" was a growing issue:

"This could be down to the cost-of-living crisis. But there is no excuse for people to go to a restaurant, have a three-course meal and bottle of wine and then not pay for it. It's outrageous," Jones said. "From what we can see, those who tend to do this tend not to be typical thieves who are drug or alcohol dependent. They're driving away in their own cars.

"It's an appalling crime, particularly when people are struggling to pay bills and keep businesses afloat. I'd urge people to share images online as many business owners have done and to name and shame those individuals."

According to research carried out by Barclaycard in 2018, six in 10 restaurant owners have seen customers leave without paying

The Metropolitan Police has eight helpful tips for restaurants designed to stop people from leaving without paying for their meals.

  1. Keep it tidy: To prevent theft, keep your car park clean, well-lit, and with clear parking bay lines. Install CCTV with visible signage to deter thieves and make them think twice before leaving without paying.

  2. Prevent an easy getaway: Minimise exit points and keep an eye on outside smoking areas that lead directly to the street. Have staff patrol the area and maintain good surveillance from inside the building.

  3. Capture their faces: It is recommended you install CCTV in your restaurant and that it covers all exits. This not only deters crime, it also provides reassurance to customers and staff.

  4. Own the door: Greet every customer to register their faces, demonstrating high customer care and attention. This makes potential thieves less likely to leave without paying the bill.

  5. Cover the exit: Consider the position of the cash till for better crime prevention. A clear view of the entrance enhances security, but avoid placing the till too close to the front door.

  6. Be engaging: Encourage staff to pay attention to your customers, make good eye contact and engage in polite conversation. The better the customer care, the less chance of anyone leaving without paying.

  7. Get their number: Restaurants take mobile numbers for bookings and hotels ask for credit card details at check-in. Call customers a day before the booking to confirm and ensure authenticity.

  8. Protect the business: If a party of diners arrives without having made a booking, it’s best to ask for a credit card before seating the group – particularly large parties.

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