Nealie’s Skillet, the Valencia family restaurant that suffered three break-ins since opening three years ago, was hit again — this time, by a dine-and-dash bandit.
And, just as before with the arrest of a break-in suspect tracked down by the owner’s wife, the same woman was in the right place at the right time again, alerting deputies to the dine-and-dash suspect.
On Tuesday, at about 9 a.m., Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies responded to a restaurant on the 25800 block of Tournament Road in Valencia regarding a “defrauding innkeeper” call, Shirley Miller, spokeswoman for the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station said.
The suspect, a man, entered the location, ordered and ate a sandwich.
When the bill came, he exited the location and made no attempt to pay, Miller said.
Nealie’s Skillet owner Neal Scott knew something was up with the dine-and-dash man before the man sat down to eat.
“This guy comes into the restaurant about 8 o’clock, and I knew right away something was up,” he said.
“He had a hospital bracelet on but that wasn’t it. He also had an intravenous needle in his arm,” he said. “He most likely just walked out of the hospital. He says, ‘Is this a restaurant?’ and then he sits down.”
The man ate a club sandwich with French fries and a soda, Neal said, noting something “odd” about the suspect.
“He kept going to the bathroom. He kept running back and forth to the bathroom,” he said.
Neal learned quickly the bathroom trips served to create a “diversion.”
“He stuffed up the bathroom sink with paper towels and left the water on. The place was flooded. I saw the water and raced back there.”
Just before he raced to the bathroom, the patron flashed him a peace sign and left the restaurant.
“I started running after him,” Neal said, noting the suspect was fast.
“But, just then, my hero wife (Haydee Scott) appears and sees me running. She says ‘Sit your old a– down,’ and she follows him to the bus station.”
When she finally caught up with the suspect, the man had nothing to say, Neal said.
“My wife told him, ‘If you would have said you’re homeless and hungry, I would have given you a sandwich.’ Then the guy says to her, ‘Well, could you drive me to the train station?’
“My wife told him, ‘No. The deputies are on their way,’” he said.
Last month, Haydee Scott spotted a suspect of a break-in and notified deputies who then arrested the man.