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Dine-and-Dashers Walk Out on $142 Bill at Downriver Restaurant

A similar incident occurred at Vettraino’s in April.

Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Police in Wyandotte are on the prowl for a pair of dine-and-dashers with a taste for Italian food. According to The News-Herald, the criminal duo rang up a $142 bill at Magdaleno Italian Ristorante on September 29. General manager Polly Kenzie says she was taking a smoke break when a man, a woman, and a little boy arrived — parking their black 90s-model Suburban on the street. "That struck me as odd, because there was plenty of parking in the [restaurant's] parking lot, but it never occurred to me to keep an eye on them," she says.

A waitress notes in the police report that nothing seemed out of the ordinary when they were seated and served, but before the bill arrived the man walked out of the restaurant. The woman later explained to the waitress that he had to respond to a business call. Some time passed by before the woman approached the waitress to explain that her child's grandparents had arrived to pick him up. She requested that the waitress not clear the table, stating that they planned on finishing their food. The group never returned.

"Who wants to teach their kid that behavior?"

The incident is nearly identical to another dine-and-dash that occurred on April 3 at Vettraino's Café and Bar in Allen Park. On that evening a man and a woman fitting a similar description brought two children into the restaurant. The group consumed $60 worth of alcohol and $30 in food before the man using the grandparent story to duck out of the eatery. The woman then apparently stepped outside to smoke a cigarette and disappeared.

In the aftermath of the most recent offense police were able to recover fingerprints from two wine glasses and an empty wine bottle left at the table. They also retrieved the woman's black coat for evidence. Polly Kenzie also posted images of the couple to the Magdaleno Facebook page requesting information. Eater reached out to Magdaleno today and spoke with the general manager who says there have been some developments in the case and she's awaiting a call from police. Stay tuned for updates.

Update, 10/06, 4:57 p.m.: Polly Kenzie tells Eater that the pair have been caught and charged with misdemeanors thanks in part to Magdaleno's friends and customers who shared her Facebook post over 500 times. The social media campaign helped generated more than a dozen tips identifying the perpetrators, she says. Since the story, Kenzie adds that several area restaurants have contacted her saying the serial dashers also struck their establishments. Police say the pair will have to pay restitution to each victimized restaurant.

Kenzie says the Vettraino's story caught her eye back in April, particularly because the couple involved children in their ruse. "Who wants to teach their kid that behavior?" Still she was shocked when the same thing happened at her restaurant. "They ordered real expensive items. A couple bottles of wine. They wanted to order dessert. They were very polished. They knew exactly what they were doing."

Magdaleno Italian Restaurant

152 Elm St, Wyandotte, MI 48192 (734) 283-8200