An Illinois man was arrested for theft after he sat down at a Mattoon steakhouse and ordered a large meal that he could not pay for. He apparently ordered and ate appetizers, a steak, a lobster tail, and one drink to run up a tab of $70 before telling the server that he had no money to pay for the meal. He was arrested after she called the police and was eventually charged with theft.
This is the second recent occasion of dining with the intention of walking out on the bill. Previously he rang up a $100 tab at a different local restaurant.
In the previous arrest the man announced to the restaurant staff that he was unable to pay before they called the police and had him arrested. This pattern suggests that other factors such as poverty or mental illness could be at play in his repeat behavior. In fact, at the time of the steakhouse incident the man had been out of jail for just one day from the previous dine-and-dash incident.
Overall, the man has a record of 70 prior arrests and 13 previous convictions for crimes such as theft and burglary. In addition to restitution and fines, he was also sentenced to three years for this incident because of his record.
There are a few things to take away from this story. The first is that people who have been convicted of a crime suffer from harsher penalties when they have committed the same or a similar crime in the past. The second is that given the pattern of behavior in a case like this, it is possible that the court should look to some alternative sentencing options besides jail that might stop the cycle of minor thefts from local restaurants.
Source: CNN, "Illinois man with record of unpaid meal bills dining at county expense - in jail," Mayra Cuevas, June 14, 2013.