Don't try and pull a dine and ditch on Peter Crotty--he'll chase after you, hang onto your vehicle and make you pay, literally.
On Oct. 26 about midnight, four suspects decided to ditch their $51 bill at Buffalo Wild Wings in Skokie. Crotty, a 24-year-old waiter, ran after them and hung onto their speeding SUV for more than six blocks -- all while taking punches to the face.
"It's not the first time I've ridden on the side of a car," Crotty said. "I was wondering if they were going to get on the highway."
Crotty, who ran cross-country and track for Loyola Academy, said the vehicle reached speeds of more than 40 mph. The driver blew multiple red lights throughout the ordeal, he recalled.
When the vehicle finally slowed down, Crotty thought the occupants were going to get out and fight him.
"I was getting punched by both guys in the front and rear passenger [seat]," he said. "Once they stopped, I was going to confront them and let them know they had to pay their bill, but they sped off instead."
Fortunately for Crotty, his efforts weren't wasted. Nearby Lincolnwood police were alerted of the make and model of the SUV and were able to nab three of the four suspects. The fourth suspect fled after he saw Crotty hanging on the side of his friend's Ford Explorer, said Kevin Zurek, manager at Buffalo Wild Wings, 7020 Carpenter Rd.
"Once I found out [Crotty] was OK, I thought it was funny," Zurek said. "But [when he first] left, I thought he was a dead man."
"[Crotty] is very, very fast," Zurek added.
According to police reports, an employee told her manager that she recognized one of the suspects as someone who had skipped out without paying once before. When the group got up and quickly walked toward the door, one of the employees yelled, alerting Crotty.
The report goes on to say that "[Crotty] stood on the running board and hung onto the luggage rack," and that the vehicle "did not stop for a red light to go northbound on Carpenter Road. The vehicle also went through the red light going eastbound on Touhy Avenue from Carpenter Road."
Yet stopping the suspects wasn't the only thing on Crotty's mind. He said after he got off the SUV, he immediately started running back to work.
"I realized I left my tables and my customers were waiting for me," he said. "Hopefully, the friend they left behind learns something from this."
In the end, police arrested Nikko Relucio, 18, of the 2300 block of West Farwell Avenue; Denorsic Conley, 18, of the 7500 block of North Claremont Avenue;, and Derrick Pitts, 19, of the 7400 block of North Claremont. The group refused to identify the fourth suspect for police.
Conley, who was driving the SUV, pleaded with police not to tow his car.
"Man, can we work something out?" he asked Skokie police. "Man, can I pay for the food; please don't tow my car. Who I have to talk to? I didn't have money so we left. But we'll pay for it now. Please don't tow my car, it's my girlfriend's car. Please."
Unfortunately, the group had no cash or credit cards on them.
They were charged with disobeying red lights, reckless driving and have a court date of Dec. 8.
Be sure to read our update, here.