Dine and dash
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A dine and dash is a form of theft by fraud, in which a patron orders and consumes food and beverages from a restaurant or similar establishment with the intent not to pay. The act may involve the customer leaving the restaurant with the intent of evading payment, or, less commonly, of the patron eating the food and then stating that they do not have any money.
There are numerous slang variations for this act, including "dine and ditch", "eat and run", "chew and screw", "eat it and beat it", "eat it and street it", "lick it and split it", "book it and hook it", "bite and bolt", "stow it and blow it", "doing a runner", "beating the check", "Burking the turking", or "sip and skip".
In English law, "dash and dine" falls under the crime of making off without payment introduced in 1978; the law was later copied in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Simply failing to pay a bill when due is generally not a crime in most United States circumstances or jurisdictions. It is a contract debt, and the act is civil rather than criminal in nature. However, there are often laws that apply specifically to restaurants, hotels, and other circumstances, where the presumption is that the customer intended to never pay their bill in advance and therefore obtained the valuable services under false pretenses, a form of criminal fraud. In certain states, dining and dashing is not labelled as a criminal issue. For example, in California, it is considered a petty theft, while in Mississippi, it is a felony offense to refuse to pay a bill over $25.00.
Often, the establishment may make their employees pay the cost of customer theft to give them an incentive to police their customers. They may do so explicitly by deducting unpaid meals from wages or tips, or implicitly through an end-of-shift reconciliation system whereby the server is expected to provide enough cash and credit card receipts to cover the cost of their customers' meals, and keeps any surplus as tips. This is an illegal form of wage theft, and if the server is held responsible for tabs that are not paid, the employer is liable for paying the server back his or her stolen wages.
Some restaurants and cafes face large volumes of dine-and-dash food theft problems, which affect daily profits. To combat this, in some restaurants people have to pay before the meal is served, or put down deposits.
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