Belfast Telegraph

PSNI warns of menus scam

Distraction theft alert over men handing out stolen restaurant leaflets

BY CLAIRE MCNEILLY

Police are warning the public and business owners about a new scam that has been reported in Belfast.

Two men, believed to be foreign nationals, have been distributing catering menus stolen from a restaurant in the city centre.

The proprietor of Snax ' N The City became aware of the leaflets being handed out after being contacted by premises which were targeted.

In one incident a mobile phone belonging to woman working in a shop was stolen while the men were there.

Ciara Smith-Rossi, who owns Snax ' N The City at Linenhall Street, said she feared leaflets discarded by her firm for recycling had fallen foul of criminals.

"I was contacted after two men walked into Home restaurant handing out flyers showing our menus to customers," she said.

"They said the catering menus being given out were red and that's exactly what we threw out into recycle bins in the street.

"This has nothing to do with our company and I am concerned that anyone would think it has, and I'm worried about whatever they our using our old menus for.

"I also want to help prevent this – and especially after the theft of the phone – from happening to someone else." Stevie Haller, who is the manager of Home pop-up restaurant at Wellington Place, said he was paid a visit on Thursday afternoon.

"Two guys walked into the restaurant and immediately stuck out, as if they shouldn't have been there," he said. "I followed them round the corner as they were walking out because a member of staff told me they had been handing out leaflets.

"My first reaction was that it was a bit cheeky to hand out another establishments' menus in a restaurant. We started to fear they were casing the place out."

He said both men proceeded to walk into a shop a few doors down with the menus, at which point he phoned Snax 'N The City to find out what was going on.

"I was explaining what was happening when I saw the men running out of the shop and jumping into a black BMW that was speedily driving up," he said. "The employees said they had been showing them the menus but after they left one of the women realised they had stolen her phone.

"There appear to be a lot of distraction thefts... I just want to warn people to be vigilant."

Appealing for information, a PSNI spokesman said: "The males were in a black BMW car and police are advising anyone who comes across a similar scam to contact them immediately on 0845 600 8000."

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