Shoplifting relates more to the physical possession of goods.

A shoplifter may pretend to be a customer or buy some and steal many (or vice-versa). But while at a restaurant such pretense won't work. Stealing food too is different.

  • A word for "someone who orders, eats and sneaks without paying the check.

I came across a french word- Mouche- meaning 'fly' ...but could not find a proper ONE WORD substitute.

  • You probably mean "mooch" which means to beg or contrive to be given something for free. It's not stealing though, because it's being given.
    – Jim
    Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 16:48
  • 1
    No he meant what he said. Mooch is an English word. Mooch also wouldn't apply to a dine & dasher because the restaurant would have to be knowingly giving the food away in that scenario.
    – Roger
    Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 18:09
  • 3
    Not exactly a definition, but I would call that person a "scumbag". Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 18:11
  • 1
    The formal French word for that is “grivèlerie”, never heard “mouche” in that sense.
    – Gala
    Commented Sep 27, 2014 at 18:54
  • 1
    In addition to the British meaning of mooch mentioned above, on the mooch in Ireland can mean playing truant from school.
    – noonand
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 9:11

12 Answers 12


This is known as a Dine and Dash

A dine and dash (also referred to as "dine and ditch", "eat and run", "chew and screw" "doing a runner" or "beating the check") is a form of theft by fraud, in which a patron orders and consumes food from a restaurant or similar establishment with no intent to pay, then leaves without paying. Wikipedia

  • 26
    I've also heard servers refer to the customers themselves (as well as the act) as walkouts, though this probably doesn't discriminate against non-food theft.
    – Gob Ties
    Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 17:02
  • Ah, walkout - brilliant. That's the correct "industry term" in many/most places.
    – Fattie
    Commented Sep 27, 2014 at 7:34
  • 1
    @geobits, you should make that an answer since it's the correct answer.
    – Fattie
    Commented Sep 27, 2014 at 7:41
  • I didn't know about "eat and run", but I think it's brilliant.
    – Medinoc
    Commented Sep 27, 2014 at 15:40
  • 4
    @Michael "Dishwasher"? Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 0:23

In a retail context you would refer to them as a "grazer".

Echoing Geobit's comment, you might consider a "walkout".

Or more prosaicly, you might simply refer to them as a "thief", since that's what they are.


A common phrase for that type of thing (at least in some areas),

is "runner", "a runner", "did a runner".

  • 1
    "doing a runner" was already included in Jim's answer, half an hour before yours Commented Sep 27, 2014 at 4:45
  • Ah, well done Jim !
    – Fattie
    Commented Sep 27, 2014 at 7:32

There is no difference between stealing food and eating food and not paying for it. The second is a subset of the first.

There are definitely terms for the act of eating at a restaurant and leaving without paying—chew and screw, dine and dash, or eat and run, for example—but I can't think of any that specifically refer to the perpetrator.

Mooch is a good start, but does not imply the illegality (since typically a mooch asks for what they don't pay for). Perhaps freeloader, parasite, or sponge, but again none of those have the implication of theft. Con artist captures the "trick" aspect of the theft, but has connotations of a hustler who convinces their victim to do something they would not ordinarily do (and waiters are always serving food).

So moving on to words describing theft: filcher might work and swindler seems apt, but neither is specific to this act.

This might be the time to make up a term: perhaps pie-jacker or sandwichbagger? ;)

  • 5
    I like pie-jacker!
    – Jim
    Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 17:00
  • You are correct, mike. I fixed the spelling. Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 21:53
  • There is a distinction between stealing food and eating and not paying for it. If someone has a restaurant meal, planning to pay, and then when the bill comes they decides to run away, they haven't stolen the food. You can't steal something that you've already digested. In England and Wales, until the Theft Act 1978 created the offence of 'making of without payment' they wouldn't have been guilty of any crime, although they would be in debt to the restaurant.
    – bdsl
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 10:53
  • so you're telling me that there may be a legal distinction, but in reality it is theft. How often does one sit down, intending to pay, and then run away before settling the bill? Outside of 'rampaging maniac' and 'disaster' movies where there is suddenly a much more pressing concern? Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 12:53

I have heard the term "check walking" or "check walker" The idea being, they walk out without paying the check.

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    – choster
    Commented Sep 28, 2014 at 15:06

Slightly obscure, but you can use bilking (Oxford Dictionaries) - withholding money unfairly. This has been fairly frequently applied to people failing to pay at resturants, e.g. "Man who bilked El Bulli is found".

As Richard says in his comment there is also the term from the British Theft Act, making off without payment.


In the US I've heard this referred to as "choke-n-bolt".


The closest single word (as opposed to phrase) that I know is scarper, although scarper may also used be generally for any hasty exit to avoid consequences.


'dodger'--someone who resorts to dishonest tricks to avoid something unpleasant (like paying the check at a restaurant or leaving the gas station without paying after a fill-up). The Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team used to be called the Brooklyn (NYC) Dodgers, named after the 'trolley dodger'--someone who rides on the trolley and gets off without paying.


Bilking used to be a famous word in our university campus for eat and sneak types.


Stiffed as a transitive verb is to cheat someone out of money owed or not to pay someone an amount due or expected. “He stiffed me on the tip.” Encarta Dictionary North American


The legal term is "Defrauding an Innkeeper".


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