Disgruntled diners took to stealing bathroom fixtures from a Sunderland restaurant after they were left disappointed with the quality of their meal.
Michael Ross, 36, and his partner had treated themselves to a slap-up meal at Sambuca on December 10, when, they claim, the food and service fell short of their expectations.
As a result, the pair decided to make off with two wall mirrors from the toilets at the eaterie, in Wylam Wharf, city magistrates heard.
Prosecutor Paul Anderson said: “Mr Ross and his girlfriend had gone to Sambuca for a three-course meal.
“It seems they weren’t particularly happy with either the quality of the meal or the service, or something, but for reasons known only to them, they each went to the respective toilets and removed vanity mirrors off the wall and took them home with them in their child’s pushchair.”
Mr Anderson said the couple were seen on CCTV, each removing a mirror.
“I’m amazed, because you don’t expect it from customers, to come in for a meal and leave with a souvenir.”Alina Ciobotaru, floor manager at Sambuca
When he was interviewed by police, Ross told them: “I saw the mirror in the toilet and thought they would look quite nice in the house.”
Ross, of Brady Street, Pallion, pleaded guilty to theft at Sunderland Magistrates Court. His girlfriend accepted a police caution.
James Palmer, defending, said Ross had turned over a new leaf after regularly appearing before the courts due to his past drug use.
“This is completely different to anything he’s done before,” Mr Palmer said.
“He has gone for a meal with his partner. He wasn’t pleased with the service he had received in that occasion.
“He saw the mirror, as did his partner, and they took them home. As a result, one mirror broke.
“It was stupid, it was a spur-of-the-moment thing.”
Bench chairman John Cowley said: “It’s a shame to see you in court at all, but you cannot go around and help yourself to various bits and pieces in people’s restaurants, because you are disgruntled about the meal. It leaves them even more disgruntled about your behaviour.
“The fact that you both took the mirrors lends an element of planning on behalf of both of you.”
Ross was fined £80 and was told to pay £25 compensation, £85 costs and a £20 surcharge.
Staff’s disbelief over raid
Staff at Sambuca spoke of their disbelief at the raid.
Floor manager Alina Ciobotaru was serving at the bar when Michael Ross and his girlfriend arrived.
The couple had entered the first floor restaurant via the lift from the ground floor entrance, where the toilets are located.
“It’s bad but funny at the same time,” Alina told the Echo. “We had a couple come in with a pushchair and ask for a table for two with a highchair.
“We provided them with a table and they ordered their meal.
“The woman started going up and down the stairs, checking the toilets. About an hour after, they waited for the lift to come and they left.
“I realised what had happened when a member of staff told me: ‘the mirrors have gone from the toilets’.”
Alina said it is the first time an item that was fixed to the wall had disappeared, adding: “We get quite a lot of these things. People pinch soap dispensers and soap.
“I came back upstairs because we were very busy. I checked the cameras that oversee the toilets. I saw one of them stop, and, I saw each of them walk into the gents and the ladies and walk out with the mirrors, under their arms
“I couldn’t believe it, you don’t expect customers to come in and sit at the table and leave with the furnishings.
“The police told us that she knew the guy and they would try and get him to the police station. Two weeks ago the police came back with our mirrors.
“They said they found the mirrors on the wall in their house. One was already cracked.
“I’m amazed, because you don’t expect it from customers, to come in for a meal and leave with a souvenir.”