Sometimes people love a restaurant so much they take a little something home, and we’re not talking matchbooks. Sterling-silver flatware, steak knives, mother-of-pearl caviar spoons have all walked out of Napa Valley’s French Laundry, says general manager Laura Cunningham. Does she call the cops? Rarely. “When we see someone taking something, the items just go right onto their check,” she says. One exception: A woman once tried to walk out with two 15-inch monster Bordeaux wineglasses. When a staff member confronted the customer, she was shocked, shocked. “How did these massive wineglasses get into my bag?” she wondered aloud.

Lamps, sconces, faucets, and soap dispensers have all been known to skip. Aureole in Las Vegas uses a $2,500 Hewlett-Packard tablet PC for a wine book. “Your bag is glowing,” a staffer said to a customer. “Could we have our tablet PC back?”

At Scott’s Seafood Grill in Oakland and Walnut Creek, California, “We had two nice lamps that disappeared,” says Scott’s Michael Stagg. It’s as though people have electric screwdrivers and wrenches stuffed in their pants and handbags.

Or flatbed trucks. About four years ago, Jeffery Chodorow paid $22,000 for a life-size cow statue to put in the vestibule of his restaurant Tuscan Steak (now known as English Is Italian). Late one night witnesses saw the cow speeding along on top of a car. Although the theft was traced to a customer—who, incredibly, had signed his name to a credit-card receipt before walking out—the cow was never recovered.

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