A dine and dash
is a form of theft
In common usage, theft is the illegal taking of another person's property without that person's permission or consent. The word is also used as an informal shorthand term for some crimes against property, such as burglary, embezzlement, larceny, looting, robbery, shoplifting and fraud...
In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation...
, in which a patron orders and consumes food from a restaurant
A restaurant is an establishment which prepares and serves food and drink to customers in return for money. Meals are generally served and eaten on premises, but many restaurants also offer take-out and food delivery services...
or similar establishment with no intent to pay, then leaves without paying.
Simply failing to pay a bill when due is generally not a crime in most circumstances or jurisdictions. It is a contract debt, and the act is civil
Civil law, as opposed to criminal law, is the branch of law dealing with disputes between individuals or organizations, in which compensation may be awarded to the victim...
rather than criminal
Criminal law, is the body of law that relates to crime. It might be defined as the body of rules that defines conduct that is not allowed because it is held to threaten, harm or endanger the safety and welfare of people, and that sets out the punishment to be imposed on people who do not obey...
in nature. However, there are often laws that apply specifically to restaurants, hotels, and other circumstances, where the presumption is that the customer never intended to pay their bill and therefore obtained the valuable services under false pretenses, a form of criminal fraud.
There are isolated cases of establishments making 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 wage
A wage is a compensation, usually financial, received by workers in exchange for their labor.Compensation in terms of wages is given to workers and compensation in terms of salary is given to employees...
s 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. The practice is generally illegal.
(In Alberta: Deductions that are not allowed:
There are certain deductions that an employer is not permitted to make even if they have the
employee personally authorize the deduction in writing. They include deductions for:
• faulty workmanship, or
• cash shortages or loss of property if an individual other than the employee had access to
the cash or property.
Examples of faulty workmanship include accidental damage to an employer’s vehicle or equipment, “walkouts” in a bar, breakage
in a restaurant and mistakes in production.)