Stephan S. loves to eat out. There's no arduous food preparation, no hours spent over a hot stove, no dirty pots or pans to scrub clean afterwards. The 43-year-old gourmand's favorite dishes are pork knuckle, lamb chops, steak and, especially, schnitzel. But the items on Stephan's nightly menu are about to become limited. Instead of ordering à la carte, he'll be forcing down whatever gruel is on offer that day in the prison mess hall.
"Schnitzel Stephan," weighing in at 160 kg (350 lb), has been sentenced to a year and a half in the big house for his habit of eating in restaurants and then making a dash for the door before the check comes. Sometimes he wouldn't even bother to run: He would just pull out an empty wallet and plead penury when it came time to pay for his Wiener schnitzel.
The unemployed truck driver had been sentenced already by a judge in 2006 for his unpaid eating binges -- and put on probation -- but the repeat offender apparently did not learn his lesson, or lose his prodigious appetite. Iris Berger, a spokesperson for the Berlin Justice Department, told Reuters the man was convicted on 64 counts of fraud.
Pecuniary damage to the restaurants where he ate and ran amounted to €3,000 ($4,100).