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This is probably an offence of making off without payment (also known in some areas as 'bilking').

The offence is committed when you use goods or services and knowing that payment is expected there and then and you leave, failing to pay for those services.


  • filling a car up with petrol, failing to pay for it and driving off from the petrol forecourt;
  • eating a meal in a restaurant and failing to pay for it.

This offence is a type of theft and a conviction could lead to imprisonment and/or a fine.

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Answers in this FAQ section are provided by the 'Ask the Police' website. Produced by the Police National Legal Database (PNLD) team, 'Ask the Police' is an official police site approved by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC). All FAQ answers are © PNLD.