Scam duo cheat 25 local bars

A PAIR of would-be punters have dudded at least 25 Hunter pubs in 23 days by distracting bar staff and placing significant bets with the TAB without paying for them.

With a rat cunning rivalling their busy work ethic, the pair are suspected of sometimes targeting numerous hotels on a given day, where they have put on up to six large bets without being caught.

They then cover their tracks and leave before bar staff become aware, giving them time to collect any winnings at another establishment.

The three latest incidents occurred during just a few hours across the Coalfields on Sunday, with the pair hitting the Neath Hotel, Caledonia Hotel at Aberdare and Railway Hotel at Cessnock.

The frauds were only discovered as the pub managers did their books the following day.

Police said on each occasion, one offender had waited until they had ensured only one person was working in the bar where the TAB machines were situated.

‘‘The offenders temporarily disabled one of the card machines in the gaming area at the location and when the staff member is occupied with that, the co-offender has taken the opportunity of leaning over the bar area and making their own transactions on the TAB machines while the hotel staff member is pre-occupied,’’ a spokesman said.

The Newcastle Herald has decided not to reveal exactly how the pair are able to get away without paying for the tickets.

The latest attacks made it at least 26 hotels which have reported being dudded by the pair since police were told of the first incident in the Newcastle local area command on May 10.

Over the next three weeks, the pair walked into hotels across Newcastle and Lake Macquarie before hitting the Coalfields.

It is unknown how much they have netted for their scheme, but the Herald understands there have been at least 60 bets placed across the pubs.

Detectives have been scouring closed circuit television cameras, which are placed over the high majority of TAB machines inside pubs.

Australian Hotels Association’s Newcastle branch president Rolly de With said hoteliers and licensees had been warned of the scam.

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