Police are hunting down a "dine and dash" couple who defrauded up to a dozen pubs and restaurants by escaping without paying for meals during a 10-month crime thriller.
The pair are believed to have claimed their card was rejected during their cheeky tricks in beleaguered eateries across east Anglia.
They would then leave a wrong address and phone number before disappearing into the night.
The couple enjoyed their lavish lifestyle drinking bottles of high-end wine and spirits with the free gourmet meal.
Once they even managed to evade paying after a week in a hotel.
The pair are believed to have claimed their card was rejected during their cheeky tricks in beleaguered eateries across east Anglia
The couple would then leave a fake address and phone number before disappearing into the night
The cheeky scammers ate for free every day of the week at upscale restaurants and hotels in East Anglia and Essex.
Norfolk and Suffolk Police are investigating five related incidents that have been reported to them. However, victims are confident that there are more cases.
Julie and Stephen Penney, who run the Swann Inn in Monks Eleigh, Suffolk, were hit by the scammers on Halloween.
The couple raked up a £ 56 bill after washing down multiple courses of double vodkas.
Mrs. Penney saw nothing wrong when her card was rejected. The 52-year-old said: “You are dealing with a fine art.
Julie and Stephen Penney (pictured) who run the Swann Inn in Monks Eleigh, Suffolk, were hit by the scammers on Halloween
Mrs. Penney saw nothing wrong when her card was rejected. The 52-year-old said: "You are dealing with a fine art." Pictured: their pub the Swann Inn
“They were completely relaxed, they gave us nothing to worry about. They were very confident and lithe. & # 39;
DO YOU know the couple in video surveillance?
Footage captured on the swan's CCTV system that was passed on to police shows the couple casually eating dinner and chatting.
Ms. Penney said, “By this point, you must have had a free meal every night. To make the injury worse, they asked if they could take a bottle of wine home with them. & # 39;
Shortly thereafter, their card was rejected and they pulled their trick of leaving.
Ms. Penney continued, “He assured us that they would just live down the street and come over and pay tomorrow.
& # 39; She was very embarrassed at the time that her card was declined. But then he left with an unopened bottle of wine, just to insult the injury. & # 39;
When Mr. and Mrs. Penney tried to call the phone number the couple had left, they found that a digit was missing.
And at the address they had given, the landlords were informed that the couple had moved on months ago.
On September 10, a couple at the Marquis of Cornwallis pub in Layham (pictured) failed to pay and gave false information for a £ 197 dinner meal
Ms. Penney wrote about the couple on a pub owner's Facebook group and couldn't believe the answer.
More than a dozen landlords and restaurateurs came forward to say they were being addressed in the same way.
It was inundated with news that other venues had been hit with the same practice.
They were all given the same initials and false address and confirmed the couple when Ms. Penney showed her video surveillance.
She said, “It's been running since January and I thought it was time for someone to stop her.
“It sounds like they went out every night of the week with free meals everywhere. In one place, they collected a bill for £ 1,500 and didn't pay.
“You're like Bonnie and Clyde from East Anglia. I think they got away with it for so long because no pub owner would think someone would be so bold and productive at eating and rushing.
“It's the first time in two years that we've run the pub. Why should we just accept it? & # 39;
Officials are investigating when a couple gave false information on September 2 at the Waterfront Bistro in Ipswich (pictured) and gave false information for a meal worth £ 95
Ms. Penney was particularly outraged when the scammers targeted restaurants and pubs during such a difficult time for the hospitality industry.
She said: “Right now we are all fighting a lot. And letting a couple be exploited for their own selfish gains is not fashionable. This is our waitress's pay that they took. & # 39;
A Suffolk Police spokesman said: “This kind of behavior without payment for meals is simply unacceptable.
"This type of activity, regardless of its value, can result in a criminal conviction that can seriously affect someone's life."
Both Suffolk and Norfolk Police believe the couple may be linked to various incidents.
In addition to the incident at the Swann Inn, the Suffolk Police have linked two other cases.
Officials are investigating when a couple made false claims on September 2 at the Waterfront Bistro in Ipswich, making false claims for a £ 95 meal.
And on September 10, a couple at the Marquis of Cornwallis pub in Layham failed to pay and gave false information for a £ 197 worth of dinner.
In both cases, they said their card was declined.
But Les Cahill of the Brook Inn in Washbrook, Suffolk, claims the couple also cheated on their pub for £ 40 for two lunches and a few drinks.
He told MailOnline: “We had such a tough year with Covid and Lockdown and it was bitterly disappointing that this scam was perpetrated in our community pub during these times of such trouble.
"I hope they get caught quickly and get fines for both fraud and avoiding Covid regulations."
A Suffolk police spokesman added: "Police currently believe that all three cases are linked to the same people and that the investigation is still ongoing."
A Norfolk Police spokesman commented: “Officials can confirm that they are investigating allegations of fraud.
“A man and woman ate at the Bird In Hand pub in Wreningham on July 19th and left without pay.
Officials link this to a similar incident in which a man and woman stayed overnight at the Sugar Beat Public House in Bracon Ash on July 20 and made no payment.
"Investigations into these two incidents are ongoing and anyone with information should contact PC Rob McMahon at Wymondham Police Station on 101."
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