Man Jailed After Letting His Girlfriend Eat Off Of His Plate

buffet

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says that a man was jailed for two days after letting his girlfriend eat from his plate — and then refusing to pay for two $7 buffet meals.

When he was charged for two $7 buffet meals, Linscomb refused to pay for one of them. He said that “there were no signs in the restaurant that said someone could not have some food off your plate,” the report said.

The restaurant staff called police, who came to the restaurant on Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway and arrested Linscomb on a charge of theft of services. He was taken to Fulton County Jail.

The man was released from jail two days later after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct.

According to the police report, the jailed diner said that his girlfriend had only had “a couple bites” of his food. Don’t mess with buffet restaurant managers, people. They are serious about the buffet rules.

Texan jailed after 2 ate from 1 plate [AJC] (Thanks, j!)
(Photo: Morton Fox )

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  1. little stripes says:

    What a WASTE of tax payer money.

    • tmed says:

      @little stripes:

      punishing a crime? That’s key to what I expect taxpayer money to achieve. If you are suggesting that committing the crime is a waste of taxpayer money, then I agree.

      • brent_r says:

        @tmed: There was no crime here.

        • chuloallen says:

          @brent_r: Its a buffet- no sharing, if you do, thats stealing.. thats a crime

          • Vivelafat watches the watchmen. says:

            @chuloallen: It’s called triage. Let’s take care of the murders, rapists and burglars first, then we will move on to those who let their girlfriend eat off their plate at the buffet.

            • Anonymous says:

              @Vivelafat watches the watchmen.:

              I’m sure they are performing triage… I seriously doubt that the officer(s) called to the scene would be out there busting crack heads during those particular moments. It’s more likely they would have been handing out tickets for people driving 10 over the limit.

              This is no different from someone shoplifting, if everyone cried out that police should not be arresting and prosecuting shoplifters as long as there might be murders and rapes occurring somewhere within their jurisdiction then stores would have empty shelves in a matter of days.

            • humphrmi says:

              @Vivelafat watches the watchmen.: Dispatchers tell the cops what the call is about. And the cops don’t leave murder crime scenes or stop chasing burglars in order to take a call for a non-paying restaurant customer. Give the cops some credit, they’re not idiots.

            • Tonguetied says:

              @Vivelafat watches the watchmen.: No, it’s call the ‘Broken Window’ approach. You don’t allow the small crimes to fester and create an atmosphere whereby people think nothing of breaking the law.

          • Corbin123 says:

            @chuloallen: sharing = stealing? If anything they should have charged the girlfriend for the theft. She was the one who ate without paying. The guy didn’t “steal” anything he didn’t pay for.

            • EyeHeartPie says:

              @Corbin123: A buffet is charged per person. If two people eat, regardless of if it’s from the same plate, then two buffets are charged. End of story.

              • tevetorbes says:

                SIGN SAY ALL YOU CAN EAT, NOT YOU CAN EAT ALL.

                Classic.

                • tmed says:

                  @tevetorbes:

                  It was a theft, the guy pled to disorderly conduct. If they pulled Columbo off a murder investigation to handle this, if Grissom and his crew performed any DNA tests to verify that the girlfriend had eaten the food, if a single speeder failed to get a ticket (oh wait – scratch that one) then by all means there was a problem here. But my guess is no other crime is going unpunished. I bet dispatch would have pulled these guys off this case if they had needed to be somewhere else. i bet these cops would not have said, “Can’t stop to stop this murder in progress, we have a buffet theif here”

                  I bet the wheels of justice didn’t have to slow down at all while running over the Buffet bandit.

      • reflection717 says:

        @tmed: It IS a waste of taxpayer money. It would have been cheaper for the officer to pull $7 out of his wallet and get reimbursed than lock him up (probably feed him for the two days, right?) then all the costs associated with prosecuting him.

        I’m not saying NOTHING should have been done, and I’m not blaming anyone but every buffet I’ve ever been to charges at the door and they don’t let you in just to watch your friends eat. “No lookie loos” comes to mind!

        If I’m the officer I take the person out in handcuffs, put him in my car, tell the owner to fill out a form (I forget what they’re called) to say this person is no longer welcome on my property and to call 911 if they show up again. Then I walk back outside, drive the idiot home, tell him that he’s no longer allowed at that place and he will be arrested if he does show up there. I strongly suggest that he give me $7 to bring to the owner. Everyone is happy, I just saved thousands of taxpayer dollars and I don’t have NEARLY as much paperwork.

        (I am not a police officer, so don’t tell me I’m a bad one or I can’t do that….)

        • dave78981 says:

          @reflection717: OR, we could have the scofflaw pay back the thousands of $$$$ in wasted taxpayer money. He did after all cause the ruckus that resulted in the cops having to come, his stay as a guest of the state, court fees, wasted cop time, etc. I’m by no means a knee-jerk supporter of the po-po, but let’s face it, this guy knew what he was doing. A five year old could tell you that was wrong. If this is not enforced, then what could possibly stop someone from paying for one meal and feeding his whole family?

          • reflection717 says:

            @dave78981: Oh, Absolutely but how often does that happen? I agree, laws need to be enforced, however common sense and priorities need to be used as well. As “Little Stripes” says below, there are more important things this officer could be doing. I’m not against petty crimes being punished, I’m just realistic about HOW they are punished. Two days in jail is a bit extreme for a $7 petty theft.

          • reflection717 says:

            @dave78981: I forgot I wanted to make a point about this: “then what could possibly stop someone from paying for one meal and feeding his whole family?”
            How about the restaurant? The “No lookie loos” rule comes into effect as it should be.

            I’m a very big supporter of people being responsible for their own lives/businesses. If I open up a restaurant that is all you can eat, I don’t let people in until they pay.

            Honestly, I’m getting the feeling that this story has a lot more to it than we are hearing. Perhaps there was an assault or some disorderly conduct that got pled down to theft of services?

            (My comment below was made about the restitution idea.)

            • smackswell says:

              @reflection717: So, every restaurant should make you pay in advance? This guy was trying to scam the business and management didn’t put up with it. I see nothing wrong with that.

              • reflection717 says:

                @smackswell: You’ve never been to a buffet that has you pay in advance? It’s pretty common to all the ones that I’ve been to. You pay to go in and they don’t bother you again. No pay – No entry.

    • timmus says:

      @little stripes: No kidding. This is a CIVIL MATTER. Shame on the Atlanta police for working as thugs for the restaurant.

      • rushevents says:

        @timmus: Sorry, theft is a criminal matter as classed by law.

        If you steal a piece of gum costing a penny it is still theft not a civil matter.

        Duh.

  2. little stripes says:

    AND, those officers were arresting him instead of taking care of more important “crimes.” Ridiculous.

    • Jabberkaty says:

      @little stripes: Um, cops can’t choose NOT to go to a call.

      • little stripes says:

        @Jabberkaty: Oh, I know, I wasn’t blaming the cops, as they have no choice — but the restaurant for calling the cops for something so fucking ridiculous and unecessary.

        • FLEB says:

          @little stripes: I think it depends on the circumstances. If the guy was being a jerk and refusing to budge, their last option might have been to escalate matters to get the point across.

        • Jabberkaty says:

          @little stripes: Could be the dude does stuff like this on a regular basis. I dunno, I know I’m being all “blame the OP” but I think if I was running a restaurant and this happened I wouldn’t want to tolerate it.

          • little stripes says:

            @Jabberkaty: Ban him from the place, then. Put his picture up (I’ve seen them before). Calling the police for SEVEN DOLLARS is a waste of time, effort, and money.

            When we have murders, domestic violence, bank robberies … seven dollars? Really?

            • Red_Flag says:

              @little stripes: Wholeheartedly agree.

            • Jabberkaty says:

              @little stripes: I responded similarly to SkokieGuy below. But just to point out again that the police are already working – it is their sworn duty to uphold the law for everyone.

              I’d like to think that I’d get the same service is someone stole my crappy 1999 Saturn that’s worth MAYBE $1,000 (if I’m lucky), as some rich dude who had his Lexus stolen. The amount shouldn’t matter, it’s the crime!

              What would you be saying if this dude had pursed snatched from a poor old woman in the slums but the police didn’t take her statement because there wasn’t enough in her purse?

              Often times, when police respond to small calls like this they make a bigger arrest because of it – some calls the cops cause they hear glass breaking – instead of criminal mischief it’s a burglary. They pull someone over for expired registration, ta-da: drugs in the car. The fact that he also plead to disorderly conduct leads me to believe he wasn’t acting like a gentleman.

              The cops act as witnesses for the state in cases like this. Instead of just asking the dude nicely to leave, cops can make him leave and arrest him if he tries to come back.

              You can’t say to me that you know from this article that the restaurant owner didn’t already try all the things you mentioned BEFORE they called the cops. The story doesn’t go into it.

              • BrianDaBrain says:

                @Jabberkaty: I worked as an assistant manager at a Burger King for 4 years, and I have never had to call the cops on somebody for stealing. At the most, I’d boot them out of the store and they would never receive service there again. Even if they refused to pay the money they owed, which was most of the time, I never called the cops. It’s easier and more productive (and, in the end, cheaper) to write off a piddly $7 than to go through dealing with the cops.

                Yes, I get that police respond to small things like breaking glass and what have you. But on the flip side of the coin, while the officers were dealing with a tiny little theft of $7, they might’ve pulled over and arrested the drunk driver who, because he didn’t get pulled over, ran into a family in a sedan and killed them all.

                Backing out of the “what if” argument here, there is no way I would have called the police over something like what is described in this post. And that’s the argument people are making here. Nobody in this thread has said the cops were wrong for having responded. They are saying that the manager was wrong for calling them in the first place. This is not a stolen purse that has IDs and (potentially) credit cards, and all the other things that purses contain. This is not somebody’s house being broken into or a drug deal. This is a manager getting uppity over a $7 plate of food that probably cost his company something like $4.

                All that being said, I’m assuming that this was the only reason the cops were called. The post says he plead guilty to disorderly conduct, which means he might’ve been making a complete ass of himself in the restaurant. In that case I would have called the cops.

              • frodo_35 says:

                He did not plead guilty to the theft only disorderly conduct. He probably refused to pay over the few bites and they would not let him leave so he went off then the cops got there and wala disorderly conduct. If they droped the theft charges I would sue the resturant. Once again power trippers escalate a small situation into a large one.

              • silver-bolt says:

                @Jabberkaty: Castle Rock v. Gonzales, 545 U.S. 748 (2005), was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States, in which the court ruled, 7-2, that a town and its police department could not be sued under 42 U.S.C. §1983 for failing to enforce a restraining order, which had led to the murder of a woman’s three children by her estranged husband.

                The same can be held for not responding to a call or to protect a stupid buffet from a 7 dollar “””””theft””””””

            • SeanOHara says:

              @little stripes: You know, in many jurisdictions the cops will send a business a bill when they’re called to deal with matters like this. If the restaurant felt it was worth it to make an example of this guy, why not?

      • Red_Flag says:

        @Jabberkaty: They can and they do.

      • Anonymous says:

        @Jabberkaty: Sometimes they just do not go. They broke my car’s glass once and stole the radio and the CDs, we called and they said that they will not show up (this is more than $7). Police just go for easy jobs, like potheads, DUI, etc. They do not get paid more for arresting mobsters, drug dealers or corrupt politicians.

    • chuloallen says:

      @little stripes: a crime is a crime

      • Gokuhouse says:

        @chuloallen: I thought it was “A sin is a sin”. I didn’t realize all crimes were the same. Weird.

      • brent_r says:

        @chuloallen: Except when it’s not … like letting your girlfriend eat a “couple bites” off of your plate.

        • EyeHeartPie says:

          @brent_r: Where’s the line? When does a “couple bites” become enough to justify charging for the buffet? Also, we only have the perp’s word that it was a “couple bites”.

          • Preyfar says:

            @EyeHeartPie: And what’s to stop one person from going to a buffet… and a few friends from taking “just a couple bites”. It doesn’t state how many plate of food were taken either.

            Perhaps this guy has done it before. It may not be worth $7 for one incident, but if this guy has been going from place to place, doing the same thing at multiple places, then it can add up. And sadly, I know people who do stuff just like this. Anything the can do to save a buck.

            So yeah, calling the cops may have been unnecessary, but perhaps there was some prior history (either wih him or this being a constant problem at the restaurant).

            • reflection717 says:

              @Preyfar: Again, I have to say, the restaurant is to stop this. It is easy to do, just don’t let people in if they do not pay for the meal!

      • happysquid says:

        @chuloallen: This sounds like something from Les Miserables! The buffet-man can be Jean valJean, and you can be Javert!

    • Huabtais says:

      @little stripes:
      If you were the restraunt owner, losing money in this economy because some jackass thought it would be a good idea to try and get himself a two for one special, it would be an important crime to you. Thats their livelyhood. All crimes are important, or it wouldnt be a crime. It would be acceptable.

  3. calquist says:

    Sounds shady. I wouldn’t go to a buffet just to watch my boyfriend eat.

    • zibby says:

      @calquist: Excellent point. I’m guessing there’s hijinx here that would have gotten in the way of a good story.

      • freepistol says:

        @zibby:
        who said she wasnt eating.
        theres lots of times when my husband goes ” try this its great ” and i have a bite, and it is great, so i have two more…

        but if she was just looking at him like a hungry puppy and sneaking bites when no one was looking… shame on them , that is stealing.

        • SJActress says:

          @freepistol:

          Well, I know of buffet restaurants (Ponderosa–ick) where you don’t have to buy the buffet, because they also have menu items. Maybe she got a menu item and he got the buffet?
          Anyway, I always thought that rule was in place so a family of 10 (or a group of broke teenagers) couldn’t buy just ONE buffet and eat from it.

          I had no idea that restaurants went the “school route” and have zero tolerance for a couple of bites.

          Stupid.

          Nd w wndr wy kds r tlkng lk ths nwdys…trt ppl lk mrns, i spps thyll act lk mrns.

          • EyeHeartPie says:

            @SJActress: We only have the perp’s word that it was only “a couple bites”. Could have been half a plate’s worth, or more.

          • kathyl says:

            @SJActress: I have to admit, I stared at your comment for a moment trying to figure out:

            a) what you’d said that would possibly considered a candidate for disemvowelling and

            b) why only part of your post was disemvowelled.

            Then it occurred to me what the joke was. Doh.

    • goodpete says:

      @calquist: I tend to agree. It does sound shady. This is one of the times that I feel like I should side with the restaurant. There aren’t many details here, but I am going to defer to the good judgment of the local police. The fact that they charged him with disorderly conduct seems to indicate that he wasn’t exactly calmly explaining his position on the matter. It sounds like someone went to the media after they got arrested for trying to steal from the buffet.

      By the way, I do consider giving someone else food off your plate at a buffet to be stealing. The terms of the buffet are that you get to eat all that YOU can eat. Not all that you can eat and feed to your friends… Don’t go into a buffet if you don’t plan on paying for a plate.

      Heck… some non-buffet restaurants charge extra for “shared” plates… even if the portion is the same as for a single plate… These are generally the same restaurants that charge you for bringing your own wine.

  4. Adisharr says:

    Technically he is stealing but I’m sure this could have been resolved differently. Does the restaurant need that kind of publicity?

    • GMFish says:

      @Adisharr: “but I’m sure this could have been resolved differently.

      Having her pay is the only resolution I can see. Restaurants are not charities.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @Adisharr: maybe the restaurant DOES need exactly this kind of publicity. do we know if that particular buffet has a problem with people doing this often and they are trying to get the message out that they won’t tolerate it anymore?

    • "I Like Potatoes" says:

      @Adisharr:
      It’s an “Iron Skillet”. Those are the buffets you find at truck stops off the interstate. They probably don’t care about negative publicity.

  5. PaineBattus says:

    while going to jail might be a bit extreme, before everyone starts piling on, the story is sorely lacking in detail. It’s perfectly reasonable for a buffet to charge for everyone in the party, otherwise I could take a family of 4 there, just pay for myself and just keep piling up the 1 plate to feed everyone else. I’m confused when the waitress sat them, how did the guy explain his girlfriend, “she’s not eating, just sitting here and watching”?

  6. Jabberkaty says:

    Um, my spidey sense tells me that the man MAY have been lying. I doubt (though, since this is consumerist I like to keep my options open) that the restaurant would’ve kicked up a fuss – or even noticed – if she’d just taken a bite or two from the plate.

    On a side note – $7 for all you can eat Buffet? I’m so there. God, that Ham looks incredible.

    Stop posting yummy food pictures when I have PB&J for lunch!

  7. xwildebeestx says:

    Disorderly conduct, what you’re charged with when there’s nothing to charge you with!

    • Murph1908 says:

      @xwildebeestx:
      He was charged with Theft of Services, which according to the story, is an accurate charge.

      He PLEAD to disorderly conduct, which will be better for him, his wallet, and his record.

    • Jabberkaty says:

      @xwildebeestx: Nah, Dis Con is what they charge you with when someone’s being an asshat. I’m glad police have that at their disposal.

      • Beerad says:

        @Jabberkaty: Except for the fact that “being an asshat” isn’t a crime, and is too often used by police as in “oh, we don’t like that guy and he’s not committing any crimes or violations so let’s bust him for discon.”

    • rushevents says:

      @xwildebeestx: Umm No.

      Disorderly conduct is when a person refuses to cooperate with the directions of a police officer and is causing a scene which could, if unchecked, escalate to who knows what kind of idiotic behavior.

      This exact same scenario happened to a freind of mine who wanted a refund for some alteration for his fiance’s wedding dress.

      He made the statement – Oh Yeah then call the police then! They did, they came they escorted him out and were going to let him go until he very stupidly made the comment “We have the best cops bribe money can buy.” and he got to spend the night in jail.

      He was in the clear and got stupid. Which is, I imagine exactly what happend to dude at the buffet.

      You see botrh of these could have been a civil matter after the fact in a small claims court but Oh no You mister asshat (and yes, I would say that to my friend’s face) have to make a scene.

  8. Ftp1423 says:

    A few questions:

    1. How long was the girlfriend at the restaurant with the guy? Was she there the entire and didn’t want to pay fort he buffet?

    2. Did she really have just a few bites? or were they trying to run the system?

    It just doesn’t add up that a couple would go to the restaurant and the girl not plan on eating. What excuses could there be that she just sit and wait while her boyfriend ate at a buffet? Go through a drive threw if only one of you is hungry.

    • TVarmy says:

      @Ftp1423: I think it’d be odd, but acceptable, if the girl wasn’t that hungry, but just wanted to try something from the buffet, but if she was eating a lot, they should have paid for two plates.

      Also, the article doesn’t make it clear how exactly the customer reacted. It sounds like he felt he did nothing wrong, but I’m wondering how long the staff argued with him before calling the cops.

    • Flame says:

      @Ftp1423: The only time I’ve ever let anyone eat off my plate was when my kids were really really little…..maybe a year old or so, and they couldn’t eat a whole plate by themselves. No one ever seemed to mind…. This, however, is a wee bit different….

      • JoshReflek says:

        @Flame: Who would pay for a buffet and be comfortable with people watching you like a hawk to make sure you don’t share?

        Yay surveillance.

        • omgyouresexy says:

          My guess is that they thought, “Hey, she’s not going to eat a lot, she can just have a little of mine” and then maybe ended up eating more than a bite or two to try it. Now, I know some restaurants would probably get mad over a bit or two, or at least ask you to stop, but she probably ate a decent amount of food and they felt that because they only used one plate, she shouldn’t be paying.

          I imagine he probably reacted rather confrontationally too (I think thats a word?). My faith in normal people with normal reactions to situations like these would have me believe that something else must have been going on, like he was making a scene. I mean, he could have just left and paid for his, but he stayed. I dont know. People are crazy, I guess.

  9. jonmason1977 says:

    Surely common sense dictates that when one person is paying for “all you can eat” that means you cant share. If you could, why wouldnt you just get one buffet and share between four people…

    • startertan says:

      @jonmason1977: Completely agree. My family has several family friends who own Chinese Buffets and the profit margins are razor thin. People stealing a few bites here and there adds up. It’s a shame that the guy wouldn’t pay and (from what I could tell) did not offer a compromise and the cops had to be called in. This guy reminds me of this:

      [img][www.nbc.com]]

  10. dragonfire81 says:

    Best. Tag. Ever.

    I love it.

  11. jaydez says:

    I agree with the restaurant on this one. She stole food and I’m will to be there is a lot more to the story than just that blurb.

  12. Geekybiker says:

    Seriously, it *is* theft. The price they charge doesn’t account for a 2nd person eating off your plate at an all you can eat place. If it were a fixed portion place, I would have issues, but since its not…

    • SKURRY says:

      @Geekybiker: Agreed, sure, jail is extreme, he should have been issued a sommons or something though.

    • Joeyjojo says:

      @Geekybiker:

      What if he only ate 80% of what he could eat, therefore, still retaining 20% he paid for which he then shared?

      Silly? Yes. But so is this restaurant.

      Ultimately the gripe here is a punishment not fitting the crime.

  13. SkokieGuy says:

    Since it’s his girlfriend, no opportunities for Housewives of Atlanta references, damn!

  14. zigziggityzoo says:

    The only thing that comes to mind is this:

    “OM NOM NOM!”

  15. bakertim says:

    Initial charge was “theft of services” but was reduced to disorderly conduct, so maybe he pitched a fit when the manager approached him. Not to defend what seems on the surface to be a very petty thing to arrest someone over, what kind of cheap-a*s won’t pop for the extra 7 bucks so his girlfriend can eat?

  16. Murph1908 says:

    To everyone complaining it was a petty issue to bring the police in on…

    What is your alternative suggestion? The restaurant gave him the opportunity to pay for the second buffet. He refused.

    Should the guy simply get away with theft of $7? Ok. Then the next guy who steals a $10 DVD from Walmart should just walk too? What’s the line you would like to set that I can steal without repercussions?

    • Red_Flag says:

      @Murph1908: Bar him and his girlfriend from the business for life.

      There comes a point when petty theft (if you assume the restaurant is the honest party) isn’t worth the taxpayer dollars of actually hauling this guy in and taking him to court.

      • GrandizerGo says:

        @Red_Flag: The problem with that is how do you enforce it?
        Management and staff change all the time, differing shifts have different staffs…
        He can refuse to have his picture taken, so how do you ban him effectively?

        I think the police call was the correct choice. If he was entered into their system, the place can get a copy of the report, might have his picture on it, also ask for a non visit / trespass if he were to show up again.

      • nobodyman says:

        @Red_Flag: But what happens when petty criminals realize that they wont face any threat from the police for crimes that “aren’t worth their time”?

        By arresting this guy it serves as a deterrent for other people who would do the same.

      • mythago says:

        @Red_Flag: Very good. So I can go steal a $10 CD from a mom-and-pop used records store as long as I am willing to be barred from that store forever?

        • Red_Flag says:

          @mythago: You plan to call the cops over a $0.50 piece of hypothetical bubblegum that gets stolen? If not, then all we are debating is the price, not the principle.

    • floraposte says:

      @Red_Flag: Agreed. First, ask him to pay; then when he doesn’t, accept that $7 is less than the cost of prosecution–and probably of the staff’s time in dealing with the cops if they come–and tell him not to come back.

      • nobodyman says:

        @floraposte: Wait, how many times should that scenario play out? Every time? If 100 people in a month engage in the same behaviour, you’re cool with the $700/month in losses? Are you then going to keep a list of all the people you’ve told to “not come back” and hope that the same staff will be on hand so that they can recognize the person deny him service?

        It seems to me that if all you sell is $7 meals, someone stealing a $7 meal is something to be concerned about.

        • SonicPhoenix says:

          @nobodyman:
          My suggestion would be to change the rate structure so that this scenario never comes up again. Charge $7 for entrance to the buffet instead of for a plate. Then there’s no ambiguity.

        • DH405 says:

          @nobodyman: If the loss of 100 meal sales means $700 in loss, then you’re not in business.

          Please work with real numbers, don’t pull the RIAA BS.

    • bbbco says:

      @Murph1908:
      You’re right. Theft is a theft. What is the job of the police? To punish those who do wrong (act against the law) and uphold the peace.
      Thievery is a crime, no matter how small. The restaurant had every right to call them, if everyone did what this guy did, anarchy would ensue because everyone would be taking from everyone else without compensation.

    • The_IT_Crone says:

      @Murph1908: I agree completely. First we stop prosecuting shoplifters. Then we stop giving traffic violations? Where does it stop, unless you murder someone they won’t bother to prosecute?

      In this type of scenario you pay by the PERSON, not by the plate. So if she ate anything and didn’t pay it is theft. Period.

    • paragrab says:

      @Murph1908: actually my local walmart doesn’t press charges for theft under $20. they just ban you.

  17. Red_Flag says:

    I’m so ecstatic that Atlanta’s finest are cracking down on dangerous criminals like this. This is where the line must be drawn, folks — if we allow someone other than the buffet customer to eat “a couple bites from his plate”, who knows where their future nefarious activities will take them? Spitting on the sidewalk? Using “profanity in front of a dead body which lies in a funeral home or in a coroners office”? Carrying “an ice cream cone in their back pocket if it is Sunday”?

    [www.dumblaws.com]

    This madness must be stopped now, before it’s too late.

    • CupcakeKarate says:

      @Red_Flag: Dude. It’s stealing to eat and not pay at a buffet. You pay per person, not per plate.

      • Red_Flag says:

        @LindsayC: I’m not saying it wasn’t theft. I’m talking about priorities. I don’t think this is a priority that should incur this much taxpayer money.

    • Jabberkaty says:

      @Red_Flag: Um, frankly I’m glad that the police respond when they are CALLED, and they don’t consider it optional.

      • Red_Flag says:

        @Jabberkaty: Police can and do ignore frivolous calls.

        • Jabberkaty says:

          @Red_Flag: The suspect was THERE, the crime was admitted to, dude will end up paying for his court time plus the fine imposed. How is this frivolous?

          Leaving your car unlocked and having your quarters stolen and not calling the cops but still wanting them to DO something about it is frivolous.

          How is this fair to the owner of the restaurant if the cops don’t show up when the thief is still right there?

          • Red_Flag says:

            @Jabberkaty: Let’s assume that instead of a $7.00, it was a $0.50 piece of gum. That frivolous yet?

            • Jabberkaty says:

              @Red_Flag: You know, it might matter to someone. I don’t understand why it’s a crime at one price but not another. Someone can punch me in the face and it won’t cost me any money (depending on how hard they punch, but you get the idea) but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth my time to call the cops.

              • Red_Flag says:

                @Jabberkaty: Personally, I think you’d be upset if the cops didn’t make it in time to catch someone who assaulted you because the only squad car in the neighborhood was investigating my stolen piece of gum.

                Law enforcement is not an unlimited resource.

                • Jabberkaty says:

                  @Red_Flag: Look, I understand that. LEOs prioritize all the time – that’s part of their job too – do you want them sitting in the station doing nothing or out responding to calls? You can’t have it both ways.

                  He’d probably take your name and respond to my call. They clearly had the resources to respond to this call, if a house was being burglarized or there was an assault in progress they would have gone to that. But that’s not the case because they DID have the resources to respond to this very legitimate complaint.

                  You’re making up hypotheticals just to make a weak point.

                  • Red_Flag says:

                    @Jabberkaty: Elsewhere, you mentioned we don’t have enough information about the situation. That’s very true. We don’t. We do know though, that the restaurant called the police due to a theft of $7.

                    The only reason there is a hypothetical is because I believe $7 is not worth enough to send a squad car out unless that precinct basically was just sitting around at the station. (Being that it’s in/near Atlanta which has had a spike of violent crimes this year, I doubt that).

                    So I asked a legitimate question — is there any monetary amount of theft that is frivolous to call the police for? $7? $1? $0.01? At what point is the plaintiff abusing the system?

                    For that matter, if the customer wasn’t being threatening in any way and the restaurant called 911 instead of the non-emergency line, I hope the restaurant was fined.

                  • mike says:

                    @Red_Flag: You’re argument sounds like what you’d say when you get pulled over.

                    “I’m glad the police are out here pulling people over for speeding. It’s a good thing there are no murders to catch.”

                    The police are there to protect and serve. If someone wants to call the police over a theft of a paperclip, that’s their progative. Frivalious would be demanding the police to put as much resources to finding that theif as they would a rapist.

                    • Red_Flag says:

                      @mike: When speeding, you are a danger to others. When stealing $7, you are not as dangerous as when speeding. Not directly comparable.

                      And yes, there are police and sheriff departments who abuse speeding enforcement as a way to generate revenue rather than legitimately enforce the law (that’s what happens when your town’s budget is based on income from tickets). But that’s a different matter entirely.

              • Vivelafat watches the watchmen. says:

                @Jabberkaty: We employ triage constantly in our justice system, health system and everyday life. If not a patient with a broken arm would get treated before a patient with a full on hearttack. I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect the manager of a restaurant to understand that $7 might not be as important as $50. A crime is not a crime is not a crime. We have murder 1, murder 2 and manslaughter as an example of this.

    • PaineBattus says:

      @Red_Flag: Can you explain what exactly the madness is? The buffet charges $7 per person, he was feeding his girlfriend off his plate. That’s 2 persons, he didn’t want to pay. What is “silly” about expecting him to pay?

    • Justifan says:

      @Red_Flag:

      i’m sure if he’s douchy enough to do this to a restaurant i’m sure he’s screwing other people as well.

  18. Anonymous says:

    There isn’t enough information here to really know what happened. If the girlfriend ordered a meal herself and just sampled something from his plate then the restaurant is out of line. If they were trying to get two meals for the price of one then they should have paid for them.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I think the people who are saying that it was theft, without knowing the facts, might want to consider the possibility that the girlfriend had ordered something else (not the buffet) and was just trying something on his plate that looked good. In which case, the restaurant was being completely unreasonable.

  20. SkokieGuy says:

    Frankly, it IS a poor choice of police time for a $7.00 charge.

    A more reasonable approach might be to request payment for the second meal and if the customer refused, the buffet advises them that they are banned from future visits.

    I’ve been in many stores that have photographs of problem customers by the registers (i.e. Don’t take a check from this person, etc.).

    A one-time loss of $7.00 is far less expensive than the manager’s time to deal with the police, appearing in court, etc.

    • Jabberkaty says:

      @SkokieGuy: A lot of times PDs will respond to these calls to make the “you are banned from coming back” statement formal. Since they are witnesses for the state and can issue trespass warnings. That way if the dude does come back they have a leg to stand on when they try to kick him out (i.e. it becomes a crime for him to be there, criminal trespass, and he can be arrested).

      It may be that they’ve tried similar things, but I can’t say cause it’s such a short story.

    • Red_Flag says:

      @SkokieGuy: If the $7 was so important to them, they should have taken him to civil court and gotten a judgement. This was a waste of public funds.

      • floraposte says:

        @Red_Flag: Still ends up using public funds, though, since that’s what runs the court.

        • Jabberkaty says:

          @floraposte: @Red_Flag: Besides, it isn’t as if the deputies aren’t getting paid anyway. This wasn’t extra effort on their part. Otherwise we’re paying police NOT to arrest criminal – or at least pick the ones they do arrest based on the income of the person wronged.

          • XianZhuXuande says:

            @Jabberkaty: In most places the police are so overworked with real crime that they struggle to deal with the small things. Crap like this detracts from responding to accidents and other more benign civil services.

            • nobodyman says:

              @XianZhuXuande: No it doesn’t. I guarantee you that if a call comes in for a bank robbery, they will pull an officer off of the “buffet theft” case and assign him to the robbery.

              The problem is that this kind of petty theft adds up. The restaurant manager probably deals with dozens of these kinds of thefts every week. Prosecuting this crime acts as a deterrent for other would-be “dine and dashers”.

        • Red_Flag says:

          @floraposte: Fair point, but I’d rather see the restaurant pay the fee to initiate the case. Put their money where their mouth is, so to speak.

    • mike says:

      @SkokieGuy: I agree. The restaurant was within their rights to ask for $7. There is a difference, though, for someone to have a taste (come on, who hasn’t done this?) and someone to have a meal. I don’t mind the tasting thing. That’s part of experiencing food!

      If the restaurant is getting bent out of shape because of a taste, I’d agree that there is a huge waste going on here. But if they ate more, then the restaurant was right to protect their store.

      Just because it was $7 doesn’t negate the fact that they stole something. If the ax didn’t fall on them, it would have fallen on someone else.

    • rpm773 says:

      @SkokieGuy:

      Manager: This guy must never eat here ever again!

      • rpm773 says:

        @rpm773: Oops, there was supposed to be an image of a fat guy eating a gigantic hamburger. The picture is better than my description of it. You had to be there.

        Back to reading “how to embed HTML images”…

  21. aftercancer says:

    So the banking and investment markets can completely screw up, costing Billions of dollars in losses and they receive bonuses but some schmuck doesn’t pay his buffet bill and he is incarcerated for two days? How about issuing him a ticket and having him report to court? And maybe some felony charges on Wall street? Black is white and up is down man.

  22. Git Em SteveDave loves this guy--> says:

    According to the jail, Dan weighed 250 and is 5’10″. I think they were losing money on him as it was. [www.fultonsheriff.org]

  23. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

    I was with a group who wanted to eat at CiCis Pizza.. I didn’t want to eat but I wanted to sit and chat with them.. I ordered a water glass, but I made sure that I didn’t take so much as a cruiton off of their plates..

    He should have paid once they confronted him.. she at food so he should have to pay!

  24. kingmanic says:

    The guys an ass and deserves to be charged. Pay the $7 or order separately. $7 is really cheap for a buffet so I don’t know what the jack asses problem is. The police probably shouldn’t be involved but there is no way you can side with the jack ass consumer on this one.

  25. reed311 says:

    The girlfriend should be arrested as well. She was the one who ate from the plate. She ate food that she didn’t pay for.

  26. jdhuck says:

    $7 versus jail.
    Easy call. I wonder if this is Dan’s first foray into the not-so-protective custody in Fulton County?
    Maybe he wanted to participate in a beat down.
    [www.11alive.com]

  27. jdhuck says:

    Shouldn’t the girlfriend have been arrested?
    She was the one technically stealing the food.

    • Jabberkaty says:

      @jdhuck: The guy was refusing payment. Though this whole thing is fuzzy cause the article short.

      • jdhuck says:

        @Jabberkaty: I don’t guess that this guy is very smart to start with (I could be wrong).
        But come on $7 or jail? I have heard of dong something for the principle, but this is silly at best.

  28. poolejc says:

    He paid for his food, she refused to pay. So shouldn’t she have been arrested instead. I’m just saying I would probably take the heat for my wife, but not my girlfriend.

  29. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg says:

    Personally, I stopped eating at buffets and salad bars when I learned those glass shields hanging over the food are called “Sneeze Guards”

  30. JohnDeere says:

    had a chinese place do this to me after feeding my 3 yr old off my plate. she barely ate 4 or 5 bites and i had to pay for a whole buffet. last time i went there.

    • vastrightwing says:

      @JohnDeere: I understand your point, but the agreement is each patron eating pays. Not each 2 patrons eating pays one price. That is the business model. If you decide to take a few bites, then pay the price. If you break the agreement, then suffer the consequences. Otherwise, why pay at all. Just walk in and grab a few bites of food from the buffet and walk back out. Since you didn’t eat very much, why bother paying at all?

  31. lalawgirl says:

    Um. it’s called stealing, people.

  32. samurailynn says:

    I thought most buffet places made you pay on the way in. Also, if I recall correctly, they basically say that if you’re going in, you’re paying. That way they don’t have to deal with these problems. Of course, it’s been years since I’ve been to a buffet place.

  33. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Was this a buffet-only restaurant, or a buffet-plus-regular-meals place? I’m wondering if the girlfriend ordered a separate meal and then picked at what her boyfriend was eating. That would make more sense, or at least absolve the boyfriend of being a total cheapskate.

    • MeanPeopleSuck says:

      @CumaeanSibyl: I’m under the impression that it’s a buffet + regular meals place. Otherwise, they guy loses points for having his girlfriend watch him eat a buffet while she doesn’t have a plate of her own.

  34. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Two patrons, one plate.

    XD

  35. wickedpixel says:

    Why was just the boyfriend arrested? Seems to me like the girlfriend was the one who “stole” the food. What made the guy financially responsible for her?

  36. balthisar says:

    But… why didn’t they arrest her? She’s the one who “stole” the food, right?

  37. satoru says:

    Most buffet places I know of have a per-person minimum charge, which is basically the price of the buffet.

  38. vastrightwing says:

    Stealing food is stealing. The restaurant is right, the “patron” is wrong. The police did the right thing. The perp got what he deserved. If that had been me, I would have paid the $7 (how can they charge so little?), I would have apologized to the restaurant and that would have been the end of it.

  39. Hoss says:

    Is this guy a lawyer or something? Does he think he can successfully argue what “All YOU can eat” means?

    Most customers are very honest and get easily offended when someone is cheating the system. It’s not fair to them if someone else is getting something free and the establishment ignores it The manager acted appropriately.

    But guys in my neighborhood don’t get two days in jail for steeling $7. There’s more under the hood.

  40. WBrink says:

    I think this falls under the “don’t be a dick” rule- the equivalent to “don’t tase me bro,” but buffet style.

  41. L33tminion says:

    Yet another case of bad decisions all around. The only ones I feel sorry for in this case are the police, since they’ve got better things to do with their time.

  42. bobpence says:

    Not enough information. If she had a meal on her own (Iron Skillet has a full menu and buffet choices — fine truck stop eatin’) AND it really was just a bite or two, then hassling him for a second buffet charge (in addition to one buffet and one prepared meal) would be better for the restaurant not to be too picky. Based on his lame “no sign” defense, I tend to blame the tight-walleted Texan.

    It reminds me of a diner that I used to live near; they indeed did have a sign, not for any buffet, but for “meetings.” If you were taking up space at their tables and not ordering food, they charged by the hour.

  43. Shark1998 says:

    Time to wait and identify the prick manager and then slice his tires.

  44. james says:

    He sounds stupid. Sure people do what he did here. How many people have not taken a tomato off a boyfriend/girlfriends plate when they have the salad bar or eaten a loose grape at the grocery store? The kicker is that he was stealing, he was caught and he refused to pay. Don’t know about you, but I’d have paid the $7 and not gone to jail. If you are offended then don’t go back to the buffet again.

    One question though, why was he thrown in jail and not her? He paid for his food by my reckoning, she is the one that stole food she didn’t pay for.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @james: ugh… a loose grape at the grocery store? i have more problems with not washing that grape before eating than with the stealing part of it. how many people fondled that produce before you put it in your mouth? and where have their hands been?

      • balthisar says:

        @catastrophegirl: Just one of life’s little things. I mean, really, don’t tell me you’re one of those parents that climbed trees in your youth, and now won’t let your kids out of the house without knee pads and helmet! ;-)

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          @balthisar: nope, not a parent at all. [although i DID live in a tree for a few months and wouldn't recommend it to a kid]
          but i have actually seen a kid pick his nose and wipe it on a bunch of lettuce at the grocery store before. there are ‘life’s little things’ and there are unseen disgusting personal habits…..

    • madanthony says:

      @james:

      Don’t know about you, but I’d have paid the $7 and not gone to jail.

      I consider myself pretty cheap, but I can’t imagine a situation where I would rather spend 2 nights in jail than pay $7, no matter how wrong I feel paying that $7 is.

  45. angrypants says:

    I’ve worked at a restaurant for years and this is epic. So many people treat the employees w/no respect and try to rob us blind by saying we messed up (not everyone is lying about it, but ~50% are). Some people that make a comfortable living and would never dream of shoplifting don’t think twice about “robbing” restaurants.

  46. amysisson says:

    Yup, I’m also with the restaurant on this one.

  47. CaptRavis says:

    The jail would have been avoided and the restaurant would have been paid if the police threatened to arrest the girlfriend instead of the guy.

  48. ironchef says:

    families pull that stunt ALL the time. Typically we look the other way but damn it’s blatant and tacky.

  49. Maulleigh says:

    He totally thought they could get away with one plate. The manager came over a said something and the guy was a complete dick about it.

    No one goes to jail if they’re polite and respectful.

    • Kishi says:

      @Maulleigh: not true- my uncle always said please and thank you to everyone he met, and they still convicted him of those seventeen counts of murder.

  50. Outrun1986 says:

    If your a restaurant owner and your that worried about it why not just have the rules on a sign or charge an entry fee, everyone who enters pays. Have an infant and small children policy. Sadly in today’s society I have seen 3 year olds who eat as much as adults. Then state that anyone caught stealing food will be prosecuted by law, this way you are covered and can call the police if it does happen.

    Personally I avoid all buffet style restaurants after I threw up immediately after eating at one as a kid.

    • Rhayader says:

      @Outrun1986: Yeah the food at those places suck.

      Still though, I don’t think more “policies” is the answer here. You can never have enough policies to cover every single contingency.

      This is a case of common sense and decency being overridden by stubborn parties on both sides. The fact that the legal system needs to get involved to solve a $7 dispute is ludicrous. Both the customer and the manager should get a hard kick in the ass.

      Grow up, people.

      • Outrun1986 says:

        @Rhayader: A simple no sharing sign or something similar would have helped to avoid this, this way everyone who walks in knows what the terms are, and if they do it, its theft. Policies put things in black and white for people so if there is a dispute at least the restaurant manager has something concrete to go on and doesn’t get accused of wrongful arresting of a customer. If the guy shared and there was a no sharing sign up then its blatant theft plain and simple, no argument. Some people do assume that if there is no rule posted then its ok to share at a buffet. People are just not courteous these days and are only out for themselves, so if there are no rules they don’t go by the assumed, they just see no rules and will share. Signs in general will never cover every case, but it can help out when there is a dispute.

  51. thaJack says:

    My RSS reader truncated the title… made this post look a bit more interesting before I got here…

    “Man Jailed After Letting His Girlfriend Eat Off Of His…”

    Imagine my disappointment when I got here. Thanks a lot, Consumerist.

  52. xip says:

    My guess is that this guy made a scene when the manager confronted him about it. And I doubt that the girlfriend only ate a few bites. However, it’s still possible that the people at the buffet were being idiots about it. I have an example of how petty places like this can be. I was buying a $0.79 fountain drink at a gas station one time… Right next to the drink machine was a new machine for Mt Dew slush. I had never had it before, so after I finished a filling my drink, I splashed a small amount of the Mt Dew slush on the lid for the fountain drink so I could taste it. I went up to pay, and they charged me $1.50. I asked the cashier why, and she told me that I got slush. I told her that I tasted about a teaspoon full, and she said “I know. But I have to charge you for a full one since you got any at all.” I paid for it, but I didn’t go back to that station anymore. She seemed REALLY pissed off that I argued it and would have probably called the cops over the $0.70 difference if I would have refused to pay.

    Anyway, as far as the $7 charge goes, it does seem like a waste of time. It seems like it would be been better just to throw him out or have the police throw him out if he wouldn’t leave. I was told by a friend who worked as a security guard that there’s an unofficial policy in my city to not even bother prosecuting thefts under $10. They arrest people, hold them for a few hours, and then let them go.

  53. gggtur says:

    I’m glad he got arrested. People like that are the reason why there are so many rules and stupid signs and warnings, such as “Contents Hot”.

    • Rhayader says:

      @gggtur: People who steal are the same ones who spill coffee on themselves?

      • The_IT_Crone says:

        @Rhayader: The point is that there are people that KNOW the rules, but try to hide behind the fact that it wasn’t written on a sign.

        “I’m suing because I ate the package of batteries and the package didn’t tell me not to!”

  54. Rhayader says:

    He shouldn’t have been arrested and jailed, even if he fully intended to steal the $7 plate.

    On the other hand, once he realized he WAS going to be arrested over this, he should have coughed up the 7 bucks. 2 nights in jail over $7? Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face….

  55. johnarlington says:

    I willing to bet that he was gaming the system so to speak. He pointed out that there were no signs and there was no mention as to if his girlfriend ordered a plate herself. I have myself on several occasions shared some of the food on my plate with my wife at an all you can eat buffet because she wanted to know how something tasted. But she had also ordered a regular menu item.

  56. citking says:

    It’s 7 freakin dollars. $14 total.

    This is why there are so many disclaimers, no plate sharing, etc etc all over the place. I wish people would stop trying to search for every available loophole and stop trying to take advantage of business owners. She ate food, she owes money. Period.

    This is a perfect example of the customer being wrong.

  57. RunawayJim says:

    I’m surprised I didn’t see anyone mention this. If the guy was correct in that there was no sign stating that you could not share, there is no crime. Sure, it should be common sense that you can’t share at a buffet, but he can play stupid. If there was, in fact, no sign, I would actually consider suing the restaurant. If that were the case, the restaurant would lose a whole lot more than the $7 he didn’t pay. Of course, that would have to depend on him not having plead guilty.

  58. kwsventures says:

    He should have spend 2 days picking up trash on the side of the road. At least that would have been useful.

  59. Anonymous says:

    I’ll tell you a better one. I used to take my mother out to eat at a local all-you-can-eat (part of a regional chain). She is in her 90′s and rarely ate more than a plate or two of food (the ONE good meal she had all week) but because she only likes white meat chicken, she would always get a chicken breast, eat about half of it and stick the remainder in a plastic bag in her purse. Well, one day either another customer or one of the staff saw her do that and as there is a “rule” against taking food from the restaurant without paying extra, the manager came over and told her she’d have to either leave the uneaten chicken or pay extra (they wanted to charge her an additional three or four dollars, if I recall correctly). Now I can understand them not wanting customers dumping food into their purses so they can make another meal, but this was a half-eaten chicken breast that was going to go into the garbage anyway (at least one would HOPE so – makes me wonder what was in their chicken soup!).

    As you can imagine, my mother got quite upset (she always felt she never got her money’s worth there anyway) and proceeded to call the manager a few choice names. She then took out the chicken, tore it up into itty bitty pieces, put it in a napkin and spit on it a couple of times! I have not seen her so angry in years. In the years since neither she nor I have been back to that restaurant (again, bear in mind that we had been weekly regulars up to that point).

    So, while rules are rules, restaurants can really shoot themselves in the foot if they don’t also apply some common sense. Seniors are their best customers usually; rarely do you see a senior load up a plate and then leave half of it uneaten (unless they feel there is something wrong with the quality of the food, which is another issue entirely). This manager claimed he was just following corporate policy (and since he was new there, he may have felt the need to prove himself as a manager) but sometimes I think it’s prudent to use a little common sense when applying the rules.

    My guess is that this guy who got arrested will never go back to that restaurant, but possibly neither will family members or close friends who hear about the incident. And a probably a least a few people who’ve heard the news will decide that’s not a place they wish to do business with. Is it worth losing customers over a few bites of food? Of course, if he’s lying about her only having had a couple of bites, or if he’s been making a habit of doing this, that’s another matter altogether. But in these times I think restaurants ought to think carefully about how many present and potential customers they can afford to offend by enforcing a rule.

    There’s a lot we don’t know about this story. Was he really just being a cheapskate, or did she perhaps say one thing (“Honey, I don’t feel like eating anything, you just get something”) only to change her mind once she was staring at a plate of food? Did he perhaps not have enough money to pay for two meals? Did he offer her the “couple of bites” or did she take them from his plate? For all we know, maybe they arrested the wrong person – maybe she was the one that should have gone in the slammer (if anyone deserved to do so) but he took the rap (ain’t love wonderful). Did the manager come onto him in a hostile manner, making the situation much worse than it might otherwise have been? The article leaves so much out that we can only guess what might really have happened here – after all, most rational people wouldn’t choose to go to jail if they could avoid it by paying $7, unless perhaps they were absolutely convinced they were in the right.

  60. albear says:

    I don’t agree with this, but I have to be on the restaurant’s side. I know calling the cops was overkill, maybe people do this all the time and they don’t take the restaurant seriously.

    It’s also unfair to the restaurant, especially that type of establishment.

  61. frodo_35 says:

    If he paid for his meal why did he get arrested for the food she stole. I guess he conveyed the stolen property while she received the stolen property also they were wearing clothes when they commited the offense why did they not confiscate their clothes. Also did the manager yell CITEZENS ARREST like Gomer if not that could be kidnapping or something.I really beleive the only remedy is to get a greedy lawyer and sue the resturant. Call all of the patrons of the place and the employees as witnesses as is his right and spend 3 days in court after we pick the jury. AFTER ALL A LAW WAS BROKEN. Maybe. All you people harping on the fine line of the law how would you like to spend a day waiting to testify in some stupid ass case like this after all he has his rights to just like the resturant.A WASTE OF TIME ALL AROUND OVER A FEW BITES OF FOOD SO SOMEONE CAN POWER TRIP.

  62. mythago says:

    Truly not following the “waste of taxpayer money” arguments. If you get robbed at knifepoint and the mugger takes $5, should the cops not bother? If a neighbor dumps human feces all over your porch because he doesn’t like your election yard sign, should the cops do nothing because, dude, it cost you $1.25 worth of bleach to clean it up?

    What this guy did is no different than if he’d grabbed a salad from a restaurant kitchen and given it to his girlfriend to eat. Theft = crime.

    • Red_Flag says:

      @mythago: Strongarm robbery != theft of services. Burglary != theft of services. Assault != theft of services.

      You can’t compare crimes across types. Violent crimes are not the same as non-violent crimes.

      But we do have petty larceny and grand larceny. Why? Because within the same type, the amount of damage caused (financial, physical, mental) dictates, in part, the seriousness of the offense and the seriousness of its prosecution.

      • bbbco says:

        @Red_Flag:
        However, a crime is a crime is a crime. If its against the law (last time I checked, theft counts) and someone got caught and refuses to make amends, then the police are duty-bound to step in and punish the wrong-doer and uphold the peace.

  63. digitalgimpus says:

    Theft is theft. I’m with the restaurant on this one. Who goes to a buffet to watch someone eat? They were just hoping to save some cash by paying for only 1, and got caught in the act.

    That’s theft. Plain and simple. Just because it’s food doesn’t make it less serious.

    The guy is an ass for sitting in jail trying to get sympathy. They should have just paid and it would have been no big deal.

    I’ve got sympathy when someone gets harassed for walking out of a store without buying anything, or when they get patted down with no evidence of theft…. but this is just cut and dry.

    • citking says:

      @digitalgimpus: Agreed. And by him failing to pay $7 more he’ll probably be saddled with a $100+ fine. Not sure if that covers the cost of cops and jail time (likely not) but he’ll not be this dumb again. Maybe.

  64. hills says:

    Since the girl ate the food and didn’t pay, shouldn’t she have been the one arrested?

  65. tmlfan81 says:

    Considering the cost of the meal, the wages of the worker(s) in question, I don’t see – from the blurb – why calling the police was justified. Perhaps he was being an extremely difficult customer, in which case it was attempted to remove the patron with no success. If that were truly the case, and all remedies within the restaurant’s disposal were exhausted, calling the police is well within their right. They have other patrons, staff, and property to account for.

    If other patrons felt threatened, or even simply annoyed, I’m sure the added stress probably would or did tee off someone to the point that calling the cops was the only thing left outside of taking the matter into one’s own hands.

    Stories like this fascinate me because I honestly can’t believe people behave this way, yet it seems to happen every day. Stories like this, sans much detail, also frustrate me as well because you have so little to base your own opinions and arguments off of. Aside from the what if, you have a series of unfortunate events which taken out of context can be interpreted a vast multitude of ways.

    Personally, I’d ask the patrons if they would like to purchase another meal for the going rate. If they decline, I would kindly remind them that it is against policy for someone to purchase one buffet meal for two people and leave it at that. If the patrons continued to violate that, I would ask them to leave. If they refused, I would repeat the offer one last time and suggest that perhaps this is a matter for local law enforcement. If they did not take the hint that their then behavior was out of line, I would be left with no alternative than to call the local police in a non-emergency capacity. I have other patrons, staff, and property to be concerned with – the $7 made from one customer does not alone justify the additional use of staff resources to resolve the matter. I would decline to press charges and allow the police to remove the individual. They would subsequently be banned from returning and other locations would be made aware of the patron so as not to admit or serve.

    At that point, I would offer anyone currently in the restaurant free vouchers for another meal.

  66. ICherub says:

    “Disorderly conduct” is not theft. These stories come up all the time and the real story is in the details not reported (sometimes conveniently). We’ve all been in stores and heard a fairly simply disagreement become a very heated argument. It’s usually the aftermath that gets the police involved. It’s just like all the “x was shot over a pair of shoes, etc.” stories that make it sound like an act of cold violence, when really the conflict escalated far beyond the original argument.

  67. sealclubster says:

    It’s not up to the police to decide which offenders should be ignored. They are duty-bound to respond to all violations regardless of importance of scale. They will, however, be pulled off of something like “theft of services” if a more serious crime is being occured and there are no other officers available.

    It is not the restaurant’s fault for wanting to prosecute what many think is a “petty” crime, but a crime nonetheless. People should be angry that this man and his girlfriend are wasting taxpayers dollars and police resources because they are unwilling to follow the rules of eating at a buffet.

    Many feel a “taste” is appropriate but ultimately, you are not paying for the product you are consuming. If it were a fixed-meal costs, then it would be okay but it is certainly not appropriate at a buffet.

  68. WEGGLES90 says:

    I think the punishment was right. He paid for himself to eat. Not for the girlfriend. She ate, so she stole. Sure it was only a couple bites. But where do they draw the line? Everyone gets 3 free bites?

  69. Dansc29625 says:

    Dine and Dash, plain and simple. I’ll bet at this Atlanta truck stop, quite a few utterances of “dang four wheelers” could have been heard. This guy is a snake, plain and simple.

  70. RodAox says:

    hahaha… i almost got arrested for this myself, but i had a different approach, i put zip lock bags in my coat pockets, my jean pockets and filled em up with food but the manager knew something was up after my 10th plate and started to dial a phone which freaked me out…

  71. postnocomments says:

    Talk about trying to take your girlfriend to a cheap date!

  72. b612markt says:

    Buffets are nasty

  73. shepd says:

    Having owned a store myself, I can tell you, I’ve called the cops thrice. Once for a person that brought back obviously used merchandise without a receipt that refused to leave without a refund. After I told him “Get out” he refused to leave. 5 minutes later I called 911 (the “normal” police number won’t actually dispatch police) and, ta-da, problem solved! He gets officially served notice to never be at the store again.

    Second time was a crazy customer who, I admit, had gotten some bad service from us (cuts both ways–he had a ridiculously foul mouth and bad attitude so his service ended up as the last on our tech’s list). He shoved me, and I immediately whipped out my cell and called 911. Between me, the cops, and him, we made a deal: You won’t get charged for assault if you don’t expect a refund and never come back again.

    I generally would never bother for a criminal record, except for a second time loser. I’m betting most stores are the same.

    For those that say this is a waste of money, if I hadn’t have called the cops, I expect in the first case nothing would happen except customers having a laugh at the idiot and his picture going on the wall, but I wanted to close and go home (I suppose if we were in a state of anarchy I would have locked him in the store… :D ). In the second case, it would have cost our healthcare thousands of dollars (paid by taxes in Canada!) and produced a court case after a serious fight breaks out. In both cases, the police made life easier for everyone involved, by calming things down, relieving tensions, and explaining to each party what the smart move is.

    The third time, you wonder? A customer refused to pay their bill for a satellite install I’d worked hours to complete (no, not just some wimpy 18″ dish). As it’s a “civil matter” the cops refused to come. Ended up costing my store many hours of lost labour dealing with the guy (which cost customers hundreds of dollars–customers end up paying for everything) and ended up costing him the ability to have a good credit rating. All in all, probably over $1,000 wasted in the community over something two cops would have solved in 10 minutes. Even at $100/hr. it would make more sense for them to nip these issues in the bud. *sigh*

    Think about how much extra you pay on your items at the store to compensate for the scammers in stores where the manager doesn’t call the cops before you suggest there’s no good reason to call them over a $7 charge. Just saying…

    • Rhayader says:

      @shepd: Yeah, those are valid points. When a customer dispute descends into public disturbance, the cops should be called to calm things down.

      My problem here is this: why in the hell would either side make such a stink about 7 bucks? My thought is that the customer initially made things difficult, and ultimately put himself on the path toward a couple nights in the slammer. He could have easily solved things by coughing up a little dough, but no.

      At the same time, the restaurant manager could have made his own life easier by just asking the guy to leave. I’m not sure if he actually did this or not; the post makes it sound like he immediately called the cops after the guy refused to pay. The validity of that response depends a lot on how the conversation went.

  74. frodo_35 says:

    Everyone has rights. What we need is common sense and cool judgment. This is most likly an ego contest between the customer and the resturant manager. I guess the outcome could have been alot worse people have been killed over this kind of stuff.

    • Dansc29625 says:

      @frodo_35: This is an Atlanta truck stop that advertises a 16 oz steak and shrimp for $9.99 (at least they used to) At that it is the one on the ‘Bama side of Atlanta, not the Carolina side. Something tells me he was more disorderly than the article lets on.

  75. The_IT_Crone says:

    There is NOTHING wrong with prosecuting shoplifters. This is the SAME thing.

  76. Anonymous says:

    I was dining in a buffet, and my best friend’s niece actually stole two plates of shrimp. She asked for a plastic plate, filled it with shrimp and put into her purse (disgusting). Of course, the waitress saw that. The whole dinner costed $10 but I was so embarassed, that I left $20 tip on the table when we were leaving. Did not even want to sleep with this girl after that….

  77. HiEllie says:

    Well, good, I’m glad they are getting REAL criminals off the streets!
    OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!

    (Insert eye roll here.)

    • mythago says:

      @HiEllie: Don’t tell me, the next time you can’t get the cops’ attention on something YOU think is serious you’ll be wailing about how your tax dollars are paying for them to sit around and eat donuts.

  78. downwithmonstercable says:

    I think buffets are just a bad idea in general. But seriously, this is a waste of time. Sure the guy is a moron for trying to pull this, but they should’ve just banned him from the restaurant or something, not get him arrested!

  79. Corporate-Shill says:

    No sign? Yea right. Cheap buffet restaurants always have a sign about sharing plates.

  80. Silversmok3 says:

    Um, why is this a story?

    If I was this dude I woulda popped for the $7 and hit the road.

    A bank NSF fee is a lot better than D-block.

    I understand he probably wanted to look hard in front of his girl, but come on.

  81. arl84 says:

    A crime is a crime is a crime. I thought this was completely ridiculous until I read that it was a buffet restaurant. It can’t be too easy to make money at a buffet so I’m sure they need all the help they can get – is it a mom and pop place?

    And who goes to a buffet with their girlfriend and only orders 1 plate (for himself, and not his GF??) The guy was planning on doing it the whole time and he got caught.

    I know I have a tendency to blame the OP, but this one just seems so OBVIOUS. Or am I just being cynical?

  82. bagumpity says:

    Why was the man charged and not the girlfriend? Didn’t the girlfriend accept stolen goods?

  83. Ben_Q2 says:

    Something like this happen to my family once. I have a daugther that has Austim. We where asked to leave. Long story short the police was called. Now once a month, when they are busy I have someone go in and buy plates. We then walk in and take plate after plate after plate. As long as we eat just one thing. Its ok, once we take another plate of food that we had eaten before we can be asked to leave. IF WE DO NOT EAT IT ALL. Key point here.

    Needless to say with over 40 plus items. We can be there for a bit.

    Rude yes, but there is little they can do. Its a all you can eat and they cannot tell you that you can have only so much food.

  84. Leiterfluid says:

    I bet he now wishes he’d forked over the additional seven bucks.

  85. EyeintheLAsky says:

    “There’s something fishy here and it isn’t the chicken.”

    - if there is NO sign pointing out the policy, he has a case.

    - NO one in their right mind would plead guilty to ‘disorderly conduct’ if they’re innocent.

    - like the others point out: why would she go watch her boyfriend eat?

    Seems odd.

  86. UniComp says:

    It’s about time someone lays the law down to people who try to skirt the one plate per person policy all buffets have. Sure it’s a waste of resources, but we have to look out for the businesses too. If people obeyed the policy, resources wouldn’t have to be wasted. I’ve seen this happen at buffets and it’s never a pleasant scene. And I know people who have worked at places like Ponderosa and Golden Corral and they deal with this all the time. It shouldn’t happen, so don’t do it.

  87. D-Bo says:

    Justice is not two days in jail for “theft” of $7 worth of services…

  88. XopherMV says:

    The guy paid for his own meal, but not for his girlfriend’s meal. He didn’t steal anything by walking out of there. The thief was actually her when she walked out of there.

    So, why did the police arrest him and not her? She was the one who stole the service.

  89. amccoll says:

    I worked at a Ponderosa as a buffet attendant for two years, this is actually a pretty big problem and costs the business a lot of money. Not to mention “a couple bites” is usually a plate or two.

  90. fonfa says:

    once eating at a pizza buffet, i secretly threw a couple of slices out of the window for a starving homeless guy. am i a criminal?

  91. josh42042 says:

    some all you can eat places also have a menu. she could have ordered her own dish while the guy had the buffet.

    I can picture him saying “you gotta try a bite of this” after she finished her meal.

  92. ShariC says:

    This seems silly and small, but the truth is that a line has to be drawn somewhere or people will take advantage. If you start by allowing a few bites, then you have to draw the line somewhere else. How many “bites” before the food is being “shared”? It’s difficult to define that point so a zero tolerance policy is the most practical way to handle it.

    I think calling the police was a bit much, but from the restaurant’s viewpoint, this was similar to someone ordering a meal and refusing to pay for it. That being said, I think a better thing to do would have been to accept payment for one meal and tell the patron that he and his girlfriend were no longer welcome in the restaurant given that they refused to pay for the full meal.

  93. Anonymous says:

    This is ridiculous. Even if his girlfriend ate a LOT of stuff off his plate, and the owners called the cops I’m surprised the cops couldn’t convince the guy to pay $7 or risk being hauled out to jail. Everyone one involved is ridiculous.

  94. Petrol42 says:

    I think the best solution might have been that the manager on duty go over to the CUSTOMER and politely ask that the girlfriend stop eating off his plate instead of springing the bill on him at the last second. It’s pretty obvious to most of us that we shouldn’t do this kind of thing in at a buffet but isn’t it pretty shady to get sprung like that at the last minute. This is bad business. This is the kind of shit we all bitch about on this site. And its pretty frickin ridiculous to call the cops for $7.00. Hypothetically speaking, what if those who have kids were eating at this restaurant and you ordered them a children’s meal that wasn’t part of the buffet but while eating, you gave him/her a few tiny bites of what you were eating? No harm, no foul right? But what if you got sprung for a children’s buffet plate in addition to the children’s meal you have gotten them? And of course you won’t pay because that’s plain ridiculous and then they would call the cops and then you would go to jail. Wouldn’t that suck balls? Wouldn’t it have made better business sense for the manager on duty to go and politely say “That’s not allowed”? I bet the dude that got arrested is never going back to place again and possibly some of his friends.

  95. handyr says:

    Come on. Everybody knows that you can’t share at these places.
    The real story is that this guy would rather spend 2 days in the Fulton County jail than pay $7. He sounds like real quality guy.

  96. SuperRad says:

    Who in the heck goes to a buffet and eats while your girlfriends just sitting there… Come on now.

  97. TCTH says:

    What kind of cheapskate take his girlfriend to a buffet and not buy her a meal of her own anyway unless he knows exactly what he’s doing? Two meals… pay for two meals.

    I also suspect the police were called when he was called upon to pay for the second meal and became belligerent and abusive. He DID plead to DC after all.

    I don’t KNOW this of course, anymore than the rest of you who’ve analyzed this thing to pieces know what actually took place but that would be my guess.

  98. Joeyjojo says:

    I assume she had also ordered a meal? If so, then I think the restaurant were just being jerks and have rightfully lost a customer over something so insignificantly petty.

    Had they both walked in and ordered one plate to share, then yea, sure, kick him out of the place.

    We often go to dinner as a family with one of us maybe getting salad bar. Should I be locked into jail for bringing back my kids a handful of croutons? Or me stealing a tomato of my wife’s plate?

    Did the restaurant warn him first or just immediately insist on an extra $7 charge? Are parents allowed to place food they got for their kids on their kids plates, or do kids have to get the food themselves? Can two people order the buffet but have a 3rd plate shared between them?

  99. Petra says:

    Something tells me she was taking more than just a few bites…

    As for not seeing any signs saying you can’t share a plate at an all you can eat buffet…well, that’s sort of a no-brainer. Heck, people will pull any lame excuse out of the air just to take the blame off.

  100. Chad LaFarge says:

    Did she order menu items to eat, or just “tag along” with her boyfriend to an AYCE restaurant because she would miss him too much if she didn’t go?

    It seems that the “punishment” wasn’t scary enough to get him to pay the $7, huh? How right must you think you are, to wait around for the police to arrest you rather than pay $7 to get out of there? Did he really not have access to $7? If not, looks even more likely that they were stealing… between two people they can’t scare up $7 to avoid arrest/citation/humiliation?

    How many of you couldn’t come up with $7 in cash, debit card or, worst case (in avoidance jail!!), credit card if you had too, especially if you were going out to eat with your non-hungry lady-friend?

    Fill in the blanks of the story with all the missing details and I might feel differently, but I think they got caught trying to have her eat for free, and were too proud or broke, to stop the train they started. Then they got squished. Bummer, but find a way to bring an extra $7 for your lady and this would not happen.

    By the way, how much fit must you throw to be arrested instead of just receiving a citation?

  101. Anonymous says:

    Me, I would have paid for my plate and cut a $20 and hand over half for my ladies meal. The bad pub this joint is getting is a lot worse than $7 loss. If they wanted the meal back I would have waited a couple hours have my lady give them back their log.

  102. coolkiwilivin says:

    What would you have these cops do? Go after real criminals like ACORN and all the voter fraud that’s going on? Nah, let’s just go after two people who are too cheap to pay for 2 meals.

  103. john_the_revelator says:

    He probably ordered a glass of water, all the sugar packets he could find, and a bunch of lemons.

    Sounds to me like he was just being a cheapskate and got called on it.

  104. BlazerUnit says:

    Theft of service is theft of service.

    If the man would be so petty as to refuse to pay for two plates, I can’t be mad at the restaurant for being petty enough to put the law onto their side.

    Two days in jail over one additional $7 plate. Who’s really wasting who’s time?

  105. flyromeo3 says:

    what a moron. Only in the south where an idiot would fight over a seven dollar meal.
    Ohh yeah, its the principle of it right? Friggin idiots.

    lets see whats better

    spend 2 days in jail or pay 7 dollars?

  106. vesey says:

    this ones easy, the restaurant was absolutely correct on calling the police on these two thieves. i can’t understand the commenters that have defended these two crooks…………….