• Anna Carpenter, 55, opened the Cafe No.35 in Canterbury in Kent 3.5 years ago
  • She claimed the cafe was very busy on the afternoon when they were targeted

A small cafe owner is trying to track down a man and two children who ran off to avoid paying a £60 bill for breakfast. 

CCTV footage showed the man, a teenage boy and a younger girl eating at Cafe No.35 in Canterbury on tables outside the restaurant. 

After ordering two fried breakfasts, five soft drinks and a milkshake, the man entered the cafe to order some food for his wife who he claimed was arriving shortly. 

When the waitress went into the kitchen to deliver the order, the man and the two children ran off.  

According to KentOnline, Anna Carpenter, 55, who opened up the independent cafe three-and-a-half years ago, said the man ordered the food on Monday afternoon. 

CCTV footage showed the man running away from the scene. 

Ms Carpenter said: 'I had two young girls working on that day and we were very busy.

'They kept trying to get my waitresses' attention, who would then go out again and they would order more.

'My waitress said she started to feel uneasy because the man would keep peering through the window looking inside the cafe. He did it so often that she did feel that something wasn't quite right and she certainly felt uncomfortable.

'It's just one of those things and there are people out there who do this sort of thing all the time.'

Ms Carpenter said she does not blame the waitress for the loss. 

She said looking back at the CCTV footage, the man was acting in a suspicious manner, constantly looking into the window of the cafe. 

She said everything the waitress had told her was backed up by the CCTV footage. 

Ms Carpenter said it was difficult for small independent cafes to survive in the current economic environment.  

She continued: 'So many venues have closed across the country and it is quite frightening the impact that all of these issues, certainly since the pandemic, have had on the industry. 

'We're just doing the best we can to stay in business so for somebody to steal from us hurts and affects all of the staff. It's really upsetting.'

Ms Carpenter said this was the first time they have been hit by dine and dash people. However, thieves have previously targeted the cafe's tip jar. 

Another criminal attempted to break in. 

She said being targeted in such a manner was 'heartbreaking' describing the man responsible as 'selfish'. 

Last month, a married couple who committed serial 'dine and dash' offences – racking up large bills for food and drink before leaving without paying – were jailed.

Bernard McDonagh, 41, and Ann McDonagh, 39, both of Sandfields, Port Talbot, ordered three-course meals for themselves and their family including T-bone steaks and desserts, with some being sent back uneaten.

Swansea Crown Court heard the pair, who use more than 40 aliases and 18 dates of birth between them, dishonestly obtained food and drink at four restaurants and one takeaway in the south Wales area, with the unpaid bills totalling £1,168.10.

The couple, who pleaded guilty to five joint charges of fraud, were arrested after images of their scam were posted on social media.

Ann McDonagh also admitted four counts of shoplifting, including at designer store Tommy Hilfiger, taking items worth £1,017.60.

Judge Paul Thomas sentenced Ann McDonagh to 12 months in prison and Bernard McDonagh to eight months, telling them their actions could have been motivated by 'pure and utter greed'.

He told them: 'From the autumn of last year to spring of this year, you two set out on a deliberate course of sustained dishonesty.

'You would go to restaurants with your own family. You would have food and drink served to you to the value of hundreds of pounds and then you would cynically and brazenly leave without paying.

'You would order the most expensive items on the menu such as steaks in the full knowledge that you had no intention whatsoever of paying for them.'

The judge said that using children to wait in the restaurants, who would then run off, while pretending to go to a cashpoint was 'ruthlessly exploitative'.

He added: 'You were not going to these places to feed you and your family, it was criminality for criminality's sake – to see if you could get away with it.

'I have no doubt, apart from the greed element, you had got a buzz out of what you were able to get away with on a regular basis.'

The judge added that the behaviour of the family, from the traveller community, would 'fuel and reinforce' negative stereotypes.

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2024-06-12T19:30:05Z dg43tfdfdgfd