Hundreds of dine-and-dashers ran off without paying in Northamptonshire last year.
Industry representatives say leaving without paying for services including meals, petrol, or taxi journeys is akin to “stealing someone’s wages”, and could leave innocent people unable to provide for their families.
Home Office figures reveal Northamptonshire Police recorded 394 making off without payment offences in the 12 months to September 2018.
This was a decrease of 40% compared to three years ago, bucking the national trend.
However, the proportion of offenders being charged by police has fallen. In 2014-15, the police brought charges in 7% of cases.