Huge rise in number of 'dine and dash' bill dodgers
Thousands of dine-and-dashers ran off without paying in Greater Manchester last year.
Industry representatives say leaving without paying for services including meals, petrol, or taxi journeys is akin to “stealing someone’s wages”, and can leave innocent people unable to provide for their families.
Home Office figures reveal Greater Manchester Police recorded 6,317 “making off without payment” offences in the 12 months to last September: an increase of 69 per cent over the same period in 2014-15.
Despite the rise, the number of offenders charged has fallen, from three per cent of cases to less than 0.5.
Federation of Small Businesses chairman Mike Cherry said the rise was being exacerbated by police cuts.
He said: “This can’t be allowed to continue – lots of businesses have very tight margins and it’s time to stop tolerating opportunistic thieves taking food off the family table. If the police are not able to meet the needs of businesses across the country, then the Government should step in and give the authorities the funding they need to tackle this problem.”
The British Oil Security Syndicate, which helps recover debts for petrol stations, estimates garage forecourt drive-offs cost retailers £20m a year.
Executive director Kevin Eastwood said: “We don’t want to waste police time and we don’t want them to be debt collectors. But we do want to work with them to drive down forecourt crime and stop criminals who are active in our communities.”
Wayne Casey, from the National Taxi Association, said: “The police are being stretched to the bone so it’s annoying for taxi drivers, but you can understand it. Drivers do tend to take it personally though, because you’ve essentially just given up your time to take somebody home for free.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “We expect the police to take all reported crimes seriously and it is the responsibility of chief constables and Police and Crime Commissioners to make sure cases are investigated properly.”
He added that forces had been given their largest funding increase since 2010.