Huge gang of dine-and-dashers stampede out of Spanish restaurant

A gang of dine-and-dashers is suspected to be operating in the north of Spain.

Two restaurants in the same region were hit last month and local police suspect the same culprits are behind both incidents.

In the middle of February, a group of 160 people disappeared while waiting staff were taking away dirty dishes at El Rincon de Pepin in Ponferrada.

They left behind a bill of €10,000 (NZ$15,000) at the restaurant, which specialises in wedding functions.

"They all left when we were cleaning up the plates and glasses," manager Marco Arias said.

"It all happened in a second, they took as long as it took us to go 30 metres from the room to the dishwasher, two minutes."

More recently, El Hotel Carmen in Bembibre, Castilla Leon was left with €2000 (NZ$3000) when a 120-strong group claiming to be celebrating a baptism fled without paying.

A waitress, who did not give her name, said the hotel's management chased after the group but couldn't catch them.

"The people were dancing, we were taking out the dessert and in what it took us to go in and out they were all lined up, we thought they were dancing. In a moment they all disappeared," she said.

"[The management] stopped us from bringing out the desserts because they went chasing after them. They couldn't do anything."

The two restaurants are just 10km apart and the local Guardia Civil believes the two cases were linked.

A Romanian man has been arrested in relation to the crimes, authorities said on Tuesday (local time), but other suspects are believed to be still on the run.