Never leave a restaurant without paying your bill should have been these crooks’ mantra, as they were arrested on Saturday for a far more serious crime. Two men were nabbed after skipping their $7 bill at a Waffle House, ending up behind bars for identity theft and other serious charges.

Men stiff a Waffle House for $7

Pearl River police said on Thursday that a sophisticated identity theft ring, based in Los Angeles, was busted after two men fled a Waffle House without paying their $7 bill.

As reported by WDSU News, employees at the Waffle House in question called police after the two men had driven away from the restaurant in a U-Haul van. Initially, the crime was a simple case of not paying a small bill, but things got interesting from there on. While officers were still taking the employees’ statements, other patrol officers noticed a U-Haul van, parked at a hotel nearby.

According to Deputy Chief Daniel Hunter, as the patrol officers approached the U-Haul vehicle, a passenger fled on foot into woods nearby. The driver was immediately arrested, while a police K9 tracked down the fleeing passenger, leading to him also being taken into custody.

Police uncover evidence of identity theft and credit card fraud

Officers then hit the jackpot as they searched the U-Haul van, finding credit card skimming devices, credit cards, and fake IDs – along with the unpaid Waffle House bill for $7.41.

Hunter went on to tell the media their investigation has uncovered a “highly sophisticated” identity theft ring who operated out of Los Angeles. According to police, 20-year-old Stayshawn D. Stephens, the driver, hails from California while his passenger was 18-year-old Richard A. Brown from Indiana. They established the pair had flown from different states into New Orleans, renting the U-Haul van and going on to install credit card skimmers at various gas stations in the area in order to steal customers’ credit card numbers.

Both men facing charges

Both parties were arrested and charged with identity theft, monetary instrument abuse, bank fraud, and theft. Stephens was also hit with driving on a suspended license, criminal damage to property, forgery and fraudulently acquiring credit cards.

Brown is also facing further charges for resisting arrest and battery on a police officer.

The New York Post quotes Police Chief Johnny Jennings saying in a news release that as long as he is there, they are not going to put up with criminals flying into the area from Indiana and California. He added that the story should also be an etiquette lesson, saying people should pay their bill and tip their waitress.

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