Eat-and-run gang suspect arrested in Spain

The El Rincon de Pepin in northern Spain Image copyright El Rincon de Pepin
Image caption The owner of El Rincon de Pepin said the mystery guests owed €10,000

Police in Spain are questioning a man suspected of being the ringleader of a gang that eats thousands of euros of food at restaurants before fleeing.

Two restaurants in the north-west are thought to have been targeted by the group of up to 160 people in February.

Bills adding up to 12,000 euros were not paid, and police are investigating whether the cases are linked.

The arrested man, reported by media to be Romanian, could face fraud charges as well as a claim for damages.

In the first case, the group, purporting to be celebrating a baptism, paid a deposit of €900 ($950; £770) to eat at the El Carmen restaurant in Bembibre, in the north-western Castile and Leon region.

They consumed €2,000 of food and drink before running away, it was reported last week.

It then emerged that El Rincon de Pepin, a restaurant 10km (six miles) away in Ponferrada, fell victim to a similar trick in mid-February.

Restaurant owner Laura Arias said the group told her they were celebrating a wedding and ordered a fairly basic menu. They paid €1,000 as a deposit, but consumed €10,000 of food and drink.

"There were 160 of them and they all disappeared. Suddenly. Within five minutes," Laura told the BBC.

The arrested man posed as the godfather of the baptised child and the father of the groom when he made the bookings, the Diario de Leon newspaper reported (in Spanish).

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