Serial Dine-and-Dasher Sentenced to Five Years in Prison

In Depth

Here’s a story that will make everyone who’s ever waited tables shake their fist at the sky in a zealous celebration of justice: Baltimore’s serial dine-and-dasher Andrew Palmer has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Over the years, Palmer has been convicted dozens of times for pulling a dine-and-dash: eating a whole bunch of food and drinks and then bailing without paying. Unfortunately, since he was always careful to keep any individual bill under $100, the most he could ever be charged with was the most minor level of theft, which carried with it only a few weeks in jail (a sentence he has served numerous times). Numerous restaurants knew about him and had his picture ready in case he showed up and tried his spiel there, but Baltimore’s a big city, and Palmer could always find somewhere new to ply his craft.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, have been after him for years, and even after combining several different instances into one, charging him with theft under $1000, and sending him to jail for 18 months, Palmer just came back and did the same damn thing. So they got him again, on the same charge. Finally, on an appeal after the original judge had rejected the $1000 charge in favor of a $100 on an $89 tab Palmer had skipped out on, they got him for a third time. Thanks to the three-strikes rule, he’s now headed to jail for five years.

Palmer has been described before as homeless in court documents, and it’ll be tempting for a lot of people to sympathize with him because of that. But honestly, dude was stealing hundreds of dollars over and over and over from fancy restaurants in food and pricey alcohol; he wasn’t making off with McDoubles or a loaves of bread to feed his poor, starving niece or something. I’m sure in at least several of the cases, his server had to pay for the check themselves (there are numerous unscrupulous restaurants that pull shit like this), but even those who weren’t still essentially were made to work for free. Every server has had that happen to them at some point, and it sucks.

That’s not to say there aren’t HORRIBLE inequalities in the system that need to be addressed (there are — no one should have to go homeless), but this particular guy? Fuck this particular guy.

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