Dine and dash

A dine and dash (also referred to in some quarters as "Chew and Screw") is a form of theft where a patron eats at a restaurant and then leaves without paying.

Legal aspects

It has been in practice the habit of employers to deduct the cost of the patron's meal in the case of a dine-and-dash from employees' wages or tips, on the principle that it provides employees with an incentive to ensure that patrons pay. In many jurisdictions such deductions are illegal. In British Columbia, for example, such deductions are illegal under section 21 subsection 3 of the Employment Standards Act.

According to Torrey , dine-and-dash is one of several "minor charges" that have been used as pretexts to hold mentally ill people in jail and get them off the streets, a practice which Torrey states is known as "mercy booking".

The advent of smoking ban legislation for restaurants has caused concern for owners, who believe that patrons can take advantage of the prohibition on smoking, by claiming that they are "going to go outside to have a cigarette", to perform a dine-and-dash. (See Wilson, for an example of this concern being raised.)


  1. British Columbia Ministry of Labour and Citizens' Services "Interpretation Guidelines Manual: British Columbia Employment Standards Act and Regulations". .
  2. Torrey, E. Fuller "The mental-health mess - failure of federal and state government policies to help mentally ill people". National Review, .
  3. Public Hearing: Sandy Wilson. VILLAGE OF GRANVILLE COUNCIL MINUTES: February 2, 2005. Retrieved on 2005-12-09..
  4. "Prison grub for Dutch dinner pirate". Associated Press, .

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