Man and two children flee independent Canterbury café without paying large bill

CCTV captures the man and two children leaving the cafe without paying

Staff at a popular café are warning other businesses to be vigilant after diners racked up a large bill and then left without paying.

The 'dine and dash' approach to eating out is becoming increasingly common, according to experts in the hospitality industry.

Footage from Café No.35 in Canterbury's St Margret's Street shows a man, with two children sitting outside, enjoying two fried breakfasts along with three portion of chips, five cokes and a milkshake.

The CCTV captures the gentleman repeatedly staring inside as he requested more food from the menu.

The diners generated a bill of more than £50 Credit: Café No.35

"They sat out here and he kept looking through the window and just ordering more and more food and he started to get suspicious", says business owner Anna Carpenter.

"I think they were trying to see how we do things here and to work out when would be a good time to leave without paying."

After going inside to the counter and ordering more food, with staff out the back, the three then briskly left the restaurant without paying the bill which was just over £50.

Anna added, "It's a loss to us. Everything we produce here has a cost to it. We're very appreciative of all the customers that support us.

"So when somebody comes along and basically steals from us it has an impact on the business, it has an impact on me personally and an impact on the staff.

"It certainly seems to be on the increase. There's lots of independent businesses in Canterbury that are trying to keep going in a very difficult."

Café No.35 in Canterbury now takes payment upfront Credit: ITV News Meridian

More reports are being received of people leaving without paying, with industry bodies urging businesses to report any such incidents to police.

A restaurant in Hastings reported 12 people eating at her restaurant before leaving a £400 bill behind them.

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."

Café No.35 now asks for customers to pay upfront to avoid being targeted again.

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