DAVENPORT, Fla. (WFLA) – Polk County’s top law enforcement official would like to offer a group of accused dine-and-dashers another free meal.

“We’re just going to lock you up and feed you a nutritious meal. It won’t be delicious like it was at the Ale House. That’s a guarantee,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. “We’re not even gonna ask you to pay for it.”

Authorities say a group of 10 adults and four children racked up a $320 bill at the Davenport Ale House in Posner Park in January. Then security video shows they just casually strolled out.

“It definitely hurts. Server doesn’t get their tips. We lose money,” said Ian Marks, a manager at the Davenport Ale House.

Marks says once the meal was over, members of the group asked their server to split the bill into separate checks and get to-go boxes.

“The server noticed that a few left to go to the bathroom, a couple went outside and then when she came back with the to-go boxes, they were pretty much all gone, just ran out the door,” said Marks.

Marks said this is not the first time this has happened. He instructs his servers not to follow people out for their own safety.

Now, after losing hundreds of dollars from one table, he has taken action.

“No one wants to feel that they have to leave a credit card to sit at a table but if it’s a large party, that’s something that we are changing as a company to avoid this,” he said.

The credit card would be used as a hold, just in case.

“If we have something like that happens, we have some ID, we’ve got something that we can charge or go to the sheriff,” said Marks.

The manager said he contacted nearby restaurants to let them know this group was committing these crimes.

“We’ve been looking for them. We don’t know where these folks are,” said Sheriff Judd. “What are you thinking that you can go in someone’s store and eat their food and drink their beverage and walk away without paying?”

Reward money is available through Crime Stoppers.

If you have any information regarding this case, please contact Detective Townes at 863-236-3900 (Case #22-3974) You can also submit an anonymous tip one of four ways to Heartland Crime Stoppers:

  • CALL 1-800-226 TIPS (8477)
  • DIAL **TIPS from your cell phone
  • VISIT the website www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com and click on “Submit A Tip,”
  • DOWNLOAD the free “P3tips” app on your smartphone or tablet.