YOU WORK in the restaurant business long enough and you're bound to get a feel for when something just ain't right with a group of customers.
Maybe they get a little antsy after ordering a big meal. Maybe their eyes keep darting between the wait staff and the exit as they contemplate making a run for it.
The party of four who sat down for a late meal at the Tiffany Diner in Northeast Philly on Sunday night didn't show any of those obvious tells.
But when it came time to pay, the group - two men and two women - allegedly dropped a phony $50 bill and bolted, Sinan Gecer, the diner's manager, said yesterday.
The kicker came moments later, when the foursome nearly mowed down a waitress as they fled in a car that had a Fraternal Order of Police tag on its license plate.
A police Internal Affairs investigation was launched to answer the obvious question: Was a Philly cop involved in this bizarre caper?
The short answer is no, said John McNesby, president of FOP Lodge No. 5.
McNesby said the union got word yesterday that Von Williams, the officer who owns the car, had been cleared by Internal Affairs.
"She wasn't there," he said. "She lent the car to some relatives and I imagine charges will be pending against them."
Williams, who joined the force in 2000, could not be reached for comment.
Gecer, 45, said he occasionally comes across teenagers who try to run out on a check. But the four people who scurried out of the Tiffany, on Roosevelt Boulevard near Welsh Road, appeared to be adults, he said.
"They were well-behaved," he said. "They left a $50 bill on their table, but when the waitress took it to the register, she realized it was counterfeit."
The waitress, Ashley Volkan, ran after the fleeing foursome.
"She ran in front of their car . . . and they almost ran her over," Gecer said.
"Another manager took down the license plate and gave it to the police. They checked to see who it belonged to, and it ended up being registered to an officer."
Lt. John Stanford, a police spokesman, confirmed yesterday that an Internal Affairs probe was started when investigators learned that a cop's car had been involved in the incident, which was first reported by NBC10.
Gecer said Volkan was left shaken by the ordeal, which was recorded by the diner's security cameras.
"Everybody was in shock," he said. "I just don't understand why anyone would do something like this."
- Staff writers Morgan Zalot and Dana DiFilippo contributed to this report.