A pair of car thieves pulled off the brazen heist of an Audi and the keys to three other vehicles from a popular Fair Lawn restaurant Friday night while patrons dined inside, police said.
Two white males pulled into Oceanos' parking lot around 10 p.m. Friday driving what witnesses described as a black Mercedes. One of the men, described as tall, thin, between 20 and 30 years old, and wearing a light shirt and white hat, exited the vehicle and approached one of the restaurant's valets to ask for directions to the nearest hotel, Oceanos' executive chef Peter Panteleakis said.
Following a brief conversation with the valet, the man snatched four sets of keys from the restaurant's free standing outdoor valet board and began wildly pressing car key remotes in an attempt to unlock one of the vehicles, Panteleakis said.
Finding success with a gray 2011 Audi A8, the man hopped inside and sped off down Saddle River Road toward Glen Rock before the valet could stop him, police said. The driver in the black Mercedes followed. Police said both made a clean getaway.
Although police don't have a license or registration for the black Mercedes, Lt. Derek Bastinck said detectives had some success tracing the stolen Audi because its owner's cell phone was inside the car. At this point, however, no arrests have been made and police are continuing to investigate.
Panteleakis said this is the first time in his nearly 40 years in the restaurant business that he's had something like this happen at one of his restaurants. Going forward, the family, which also operates Taverna Mykonos in Elmwood Park, will be revamping its valet system and adding security cameras to their restaurants, Panteleakis said.
Despite the thefts, Panteleakis' son Nikos said the restaurant's customers were very understanding. The restaurant's driver took home some of the customers who were unable to access their cars, he said.
About two weeks ago, a customer dining at Sabor Latin Bistro in North Bergen had their car stolen in a similar manner, North Bergen Police confirmed. At this point, it's unclear whether the valet thefts are related.