South Ga. restaurant owner seeing more ‘dine and dash’ incidents

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Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 6:06 PM EDT
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CAIRO, Ga. (WALB) - You’ve likely heard the term “dine and dash.” That’s when customers leave without paying.

Martin Moreno-Valencia owns Mexican restaurants in Cairo, Valdosta and Perry, Fla. He said this kind of incident costs him from $500 to $1,000 a month.

“We have people come and dine in and before you know, they’re not at the table anymore,” Moreno-Valencia said.

He’s filed several police reports across his locations over the last year to try and stop them from happening. Moreno-Valencia never assumes anything and relies on his cameras to catch potential criminals.

“Sometimes, you look at the cameras and see if it’s part of us. We have to understand that if the server doesn’t go there and check on them. Sometimes it can be, ‘I have to go back to work,’” Moreno-Valencia said.

The owners have filed several police reports over the last year. Most being at the Valdosta...
The owners have filed several police reports over the last year. Most being at the Valdosta locale. (WALB)

Sometimes it’s obvious.

“Sometimes it’s with intention. They look around when no one is around and take off,” Moreno-Valencia said.

He doesn’t always file police reports.

“Being in a small town, I feel like sharing on Facebook. People will tell the person, so may not be necessary,” Moreno-Valencia said.

He’s seen many more thefts at his Valdosta location. With the restaurant being near I-75, that usually means there’s more people traveling. Most of the time, people come back and pay before it here.

Tim Moore goes to Casa Grande multiple times a week.

“If you don’t shop local, they’ll be gone, then you won’t have anything,” Moore said.

Moore said that stealing from businesses like Casa Grande hurts everyone, not just the business.

“I haven’t seen something or I’d say something, but I can definitely see where they spend the time in the money with materials and labor. Then furnish a meal and then people are too sorry to pay for it,” Moore said.

The owner hasn’t increased prices with inflation and everything else going on. Moreno-Valencia said he’s barely holding on now. Although he appreciates all business, people dining without paying impacts him personally.

“I’m an immigrant. When I came to America 13 years ago I had no shoes, I had no friends. I had no one here. I was 17 years old and I’ve fought through it,” Moreno-Valencia said.

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