TWO couples spent the evening wining and dining at a Bolton restaurant — but when it came to paying the £120 bill, they scarpered in a waiting taxi.

The diners spent the evening at Baci restaurant in Harwood, enjoying the food and wine as they sat near the entrance, then brazenly walked out of the front door leaving the owner out of pocket.

The two women left the restaurant at about 10.45pm to have a cigarette and were followed by the two men.

All of the customers got into a taxi without even attempting to pay for the meals and drinks they ordered.

A waiter ran out of the restaurant after he realised they had left but the taxi left quickly and did not stop.

Det Insp Charlotte Cadden, from Bolton North Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “This incident took place in a local business where there are hardworking staff.

“Leaving the restaurant without paying may have seemed like a good idea to the people responsible at the time but the consequences of committing fraud can have an impact on other areas of your life such as employment opportunities.

“We believe the crime was planned as staff made attempts to stop the taxi but it drove away at speed. Inquiries have been made with the taxi firm.”

A spokesman for Baci added: “We just want to resolve the bill. Baci Restaurant is a local business in Harwood and we don’t want to get a reputation as being a place where this happens — it is unusual. People should be supporting local business, we can’t afford to write off that amount of money.”

The crime happened on Saturday, February 22.

Police are appealing for anyone who recognises the people pictured dining in the restaurant to get in contact.

A description of the second woman is not available due to unclear CCTV footage. Police can be contacted on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.